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The Vaselines – Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London, 1st October, 2014

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Frances McKee has left a note on the tiny merch stand that reads “I will return to sell this crap after the show” and signs off with a kiss. On stage she talks about her blow job prowess, Eugene Kelly chastising her for it never being a part of their bedroom repertoire when they were together back in the day. Frances encourages the crowd to Miaow loudly – and we do so quite often – apart from when it’s needed (on the chorus of ‘Monsterpussy’ of course). Eugene has been given the nickname ‘The Bomb’ and he thinks it’s “better than The Edge.” He’s right. He spends a lot of time waiting for McKee to finish telling jokes, a blank look on his face.

A Vaselines live show is like being welcomed into the witty, cruel but loving arms of McKee while the relatively stern Kelly stares disapprovingly on at the fun you’re having. It’s a personal experience, and particularly in surprisingly small surrounds such as these. New additions Scott Paterson on guitar and Graeme Smilie on bass are clearly having a good deal of non-Kelly approved fun. They exchange glances, grinning and laughing as they play throughout the taut, tuneful set. Drummer Michael McGaughrin holds it together with style whether it be the nursery rhyme speed-glee of newie ‘High tide Low Tide’ or winners from 2010’s ‘Sex With an X’ like the vicious, hilarious ‘I Hate the 80s’ and the generous thrash of ‘Ruined’.

A stand-out from the new album ‘V for Vaselines’ is the Ramones-inspired rapid-pop of ‘One Lost Year’, yet the whole set is really a collection of highlights. For a band with only three albums and a couple of EPs to their name in the last thirty years they certainly can fill a room with melody and charm for a couple of hours. When they throw out the glorious jangle of ‘Molly’s Lips’ McKee’s voice as cut-class perfect as it was in ’87, the old shivers return.

Of course it’s on the nearly magical ‘Jesus Don’t Want Me for A Sunbeam’ that the entertainment, the fun, the pop joy all seem to come to a halt for a few minutes while we commune with this otherworldly song, imbued with heavier, stranger tangential meanings over the years than Kelly could ever have conjured when first strumming away at it. As the pair harmonise “Don’t expect me to die” we are transported, reminded what a song with something extra, something special to it, sounds and feels like.

The arch thrash pop of ‘Son Of A Gun’ is the only way the main set could have closed – it’s naïve but bruised hues suggesting an eternal late summer of a song and one that transcends as it hits its chorus, again something akin to an alien or otherworldly discovery.

The band close up with an encore of ‘Dying for It’ a burst of unexpectedly psychedelic country-punk from way back in ’88 and the room is sated. The hits have been played, the fun’s been had, the flashes of genius generously displayed. It even looked like Eugene cracked a smile for a minute there. Maybe not.

The Vaselines play The Garage at Highbury & Islington on 25th November

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.