Petite Mort – The Dublin Castle, Camden, London 12th June 2014
Like all the best bands, Petit Mort are hard to put in a box. They’re from East London, but formed in Provence, and freely chatter away in French. They are a rock band – tonight, for instance, they share the bill with some of the most ludicrous metal acts known to man – but towering bassist Thomas Melograna and drummer Tom Schell pack an infectious groove that’s as likely to provoke dancing as headbanging. They are crushingly heavy at times, but can also tap into an emotional resonance that simply isn’t in evidence in jock rockers like Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age.
An impeccably economical three piece – at times it’s hard to believe that only three musicians could make such a big noise – their main focus is singer/guitarist Henry Facey. Slashing away at a worn Telecaster, he looks like the next generation of punk-folk troubadour on from Joe Strummer and in turn Bob Dylan, although the steady flow of riffs he churns out has more in common with early Black Sabbath or Dinasaur Jr. His voice, at turns majestic and vulnerable, is clearly one of their main selling points, every word of every song crystal clear.
But all this would be nothing without songs, and luckily Petite Mort already have them in bucketloads. Their excellent debut EP ‘Follow It Home’ provides the two bookends of the set. They open with ‘The Path To Relief’, a suitably vicious baptism of fire, fast, intense and punctuated with miniscule deft stops and a stupendously anthemic chorus. At the other end of the show, they offer us the equally catchy ‘Confessions of Mr Richmond’ (see video below), and even though they’re only playing in front of 30 odd souls on a World Cup night in a Camden pub you can already visualise soaking up the adulation of tens of thousands of fans at a Reading Festival headline slot.
The highlight of what’s in between is definitely ‘Mouth of the Sea’, their slowest and more meleancholic moment and one that turns over and over without resolving rather than settling down into any kind of traditional verse-chorus-verse song structure. “I haven’t seen you / In such a long time,” Facey sings mournfully, tugging every heartstring in the room. Hopefully it won’t be too long before this lot are back in action again.
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