King Khan & The Shrines
Promoters Strange Victory are becoming known around Belfast for putting on quirkier and more interesting than the usual blokes-with-guitars fare. A previous gig with Monotonix ended up with the band playing songs in the toilets (adding a new twist on the idea of the toilet circuit of small venues that bands play in their early days), and so the sight of a member of Jack Of Hearts walking about with an inflatable doll was only mildly surprising. His short shorts, however, were disturbing.
Opening, and by far the most conventional of the bands this evening, were The Monotonous Tones, a motley crew linked by their love of sunglasses indoors in the dark and garage rock and roll punk and blues. Alternating from deviant 60s blues to the quick attacking riffs of garage they conjure up the idea of Fire Engines and Grinderman going off-path and becoming more demonic, spitting out pop-proletarian-garage-punk-rock-and-roll like 'I Don't Want To' but also swampy Hammond organ stomp of 'Easy To Please'. Nothing boring about these guys.
Sandwiched in the middle we have Jack Of Hearts, featuring a front man with slightly too small shorts, ah no, a front-man with only a pair of fishnet stockings on, gyrating himself and his guitar at unsuspecting members of the audience during his walkabouts. Implied nudity is always a good thing at a gig, only adding to the primal chaos happening before us. It's Black Monks style garage rock and roll on a bad trip, drone added to the catchy riffs, with 'She Wants It', the sort of chaotic destruction that Primal Scream have been searching for on their recent garage rock albums but haven't had the cojones to make.
The question is how to top that. The answer is for King Khan to make a delayed entrance, called to the stage by his band, wearing a feathered headdress before declaring his intention "to play some R&B music for you". The funk cabaret is in effect, with choreographed moves between the musicians as Khan treats the stage as a mere starting point, using the mic cable as a lasso to drag the audience closer to par-take in what can only be described as the Go! Team backing James Brown doing MC5 tunes at a garage rock-funk-soul party. 'I Wanna Be A Girl' continues the happy vibes as we see a band doing what they love, while the continually changing line-up of the band as members of Jack Of Hearts roll on and off stage, seemingly at random, only adds to the chaos. 'Shivers Down My Spine' slows things down temporarily, before the King starts delivering a sermon of "erotic gospel music", preaching to the perverted with a disgustingly brilliant Oedipal tale. A completely unexpected cover of 'Ghost Rider' pops up, before the madness ends on a jam-out.
Bow before the King. And over to the promoters to try and top that with their next booking.