October 21st 2009
It faces increasing competition from corporate monsters, state of the art music halls and University dives, but really there will never be a better place to see a band in Newcastle than The Cluny. Not content with just being a lovely pub, it is also the most character-filled gig venue for miles around. Alas, without the right bands to turn a small empty room into a shindig, all this would count for nothing. For the opening night of Dananananaykroyd’s Hugtober tour, the right band and the right venue coalesce in glorious and electric fashion.
Right from the opening notes of ‘Totally Bone’, the band are like cornered mongooses, spilling off the lovably tiny stage into the welcoming arms of the assembled throng. This is another mark in the Cluny’s favour; it is not the sort of place where over-zealous meat-heads crack skulls at any hint of band/crowd interaction, the two are free to mingle with impunity. And really, that’s kind of the point of Dananananaykroyd, a band for whom a gig is less a performance, more a party.
On the face of it, the venue isn’t as heaving as you might expect for a band who have generated the sort of buzz that our lairy Scotch mates have whipped up, but they seem happy enough, pointing out that the turnout is ‘not bad for a Wednesday’. Chuck in the fact that it’s a rotten night, and Jack White’s latest superband are busy claiming a sizeable chunk of Newcastle’s gig-going public across the other side of town, and tonight’s attendance is pretty respectable.
To be honest though, you get the impression that Dananana… would play with just as much fire in their bellies if there had only been three people in the crowd. The secret to their likeability lies in the inexorable fact that they are clearly having the time of their lives up there. There’s a chemistry between the band, in particular their two singers, that can’t be faked. It’s this which inspires the really special moments like crowd singalongs, over-ambitious stage-dives and which at one stage induces a slightly inebriated chap to take the tour’s name to wonderfully literal levels by climbing on stage to give the band cuddles. Less ‘fight pop’, more ‘hug pop’ then.
At times the intensity of their light-speed playing, and screamy vocal interplay almost feels like too much, and it imbues the already impressive songs with an extra dimension of enjoyability. ‘Black Wax’ and ‘The Greater Than Symbol and the Hash’, in particular are chest-throbbingly powerful.
As Dananananaykroyd are a band with a growing live reputation who are now well into the promotional run for a well-received debut record, you would think that most self-respecting indie fans will have seen them at some point. However, if for any reason you haven’t, or even if they haven’t quite clicked for you yet, then for God’s sake get out and see them on this tour because they will make glorious sense. Quite frankly, there isn’t a more exciting and downright fun live band in the country at the moment.