“Yeah, it’s over, it’s all in your head that it’s over
It’s all in your head, it’s all in your head
And you will never know just when to leave this scene
Maybe it’s time, yeah, time to go”
As Robert Scott belts out the closing lines to ‘Boogey Man’ this brilliant show may well be over – give or take a couple of encores – but in a week that has seen the sad passing of Adam West, the man who played Batman in the original television series, New Zealand’s The Bats just keep on rolling on.
The Bats are now 35 years into their lifetime, one that has seen them remain with their original line-up of Scott on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Kaye Woodward on lead guitar and vocals and a most resolute of rhythm sections in Paul Keen and Malcolm Grant on their respective bass guitar and drums and produce not only nine albums but also a fistful of EPs and singles. The secrets to their longevity would appear to be continuity, consistency and a resolute refusal to never fuck with the formula as they release record after record that stays true to their original indie-pop template.
They are here in Leeds tonight at the fag-end of a very rare European tour (they were last on these shores some five years ago) to promote their most recent long player The Deep Set. We end up getting songs both old and new, each and every one a compelling variant on how best to produce a wonderfully sparkling sound that perfectly embodies sadness and joy.
A sense of nostalgia does permeate much of The Bats’ work – the glorious ‘Rooftops’, the opening track from The Deep Set does bring readily to mind early period Neil Young & Crazy Horse and the chiming jangle of ‘Boogey Man’ conjures up warm memories of The Byrds before they detoured into psychedelia and country – but once the Kiwi legends lock into their indefatigable groove any such thoughts soon dissipate.
In fact, once The Bats hit their perfect stride – and this, in truth, happens almost as quickly as their second song ‘Antlers’ – you recognise just how far their own influence extends. You do sense that most everyone from The Smiths to Teenage Fanclub must have had at least one record by The Bats in their collection. If you can get yourself up to Glasgow tonight or down to The Dome in Tufnell Park on Saturday evening then do yourself a massive favour and do so. The Bats may not be coming back this way anytime soon.
Photo credit: Simon Godley
More photos from this show can be found HERE