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GIG REVIEW: Les Savy Fav @ Tunnels, 1/3/11

"No-one can hear us die down here, ya know."
said the singing shaman to the crowded underground.

He, the right reverend Tim Harrington, opens the night by chomping his hand and smearing the blood on his neck and chest.

We react accordingly: for two hours, it is difficult not to look at him. Rambling, lecherous and animated (in all senses), there he stands in tight rainbow satin, Goldilocks wig, and feathers. And then -disrobing- doesn't stand in them.

The dancefloor is just an extension of the man's stage: in his regular midsong strolls among us, we help him with his mic cord, lifting it like a bride's train (or like a bishop's). Lascivious and incoherent, he is Courtney Love in a portly Shogun's body. Or: a likeable GG Allin. Goodwill flows to him, and all about.

The crowd's sense of personal space dissolves by the first bridge in the second song, Excess Energies. Three strangers bodily embrace me. The pit is ideal; contact without impact, flow without vengeance.

Later, he puts on a mitre, and leads us in prayer; all the audience kneel around in concentric abasement, rocking gently. Rub him for luck, or he will you.

The rest of the band are mute, wry, almost nettled throughout, at least until the stage invasion. The general elation is down to their delayed pro-post-punk-pop. There's a hint of their old crunch but it's twostring four-note riffs for the main (and just as well, too). The lyrics are both charming and post-hardcore generic, full as they are of hope and lust -

"I just want you to want me now",
"We hope that we make it"x16;
"I for one am dazzled, / I don't care if dazzled blind, /
rapt, enraptured, captured / by every little thing I find."

Note to parents & first-timers: it is unwise to let one's Harrington loose in an area with a scalable ceiling. He will surprise with his posability (grabbing hold of a nearby scruff's hair for stability), and test his bulk on the Tunnel's curious aluminium (monkey-bar) roof.

He knows what he's up to, does Tim. The religiosity in a good gig is not lost on him (I think, as he sprays baptismal beer on us. In a funny hat. Walking shirtless among us). Nor is the mad fun to be gotten from religiosity.

He could so easily look contrived - "hur, look at the glam clown touchin his boobs!" - but proves simply to be free. I've rarely seen evenings so absolutely about one person. I imagine this is what it was like to know Rod Hull.

(c) brokenhive (2008)