Live review: Young Knives at ABC, 5/11/13

Young Knives, ABC, 5th November 2013 016A man selling merchandise. Tall, rotund, blonde mass of hair. You pay your money, he gives you a CD. You mutter something about the last time you saw them, vaguely aware you might be talking to them anyway. You dismiss it. You were wrong. It was House of Lords.

Young Knives’ psychosis is a finality. An inevitability. They began life as a quaint indie side with lucid moments of self-driven introspection. This was their prodromal stage. Now, tonight, they lurch around a stage strewn with metal sheets, effects pedals, synthesisers, and a tablet computer. Clad in white t-shirts stained with paint, an ensemble beset by inertia.

The new album is the most radical departure from a band’s historical persona as any you could hear. The psychotic pall has abandoned its contrived latency and freed them from their past constraints. Before you could see their uncertainty at being the mild-mannered indie group that provided easy listening most of the time but whose questions emerged, unanswerable, in songs like ‘The Decision’. A panic begotten not created.

Ornaments from the Silver Arcade had the odd trappings of the initial descent. Now Sick Octave is the unmistakable conclusion. Only ‘Maureen’ – the last track-suggests a link to what was. Not a longing, that’s your mistake – you believe that somewhere in there the band is what it was not what it is, because your fears of its dive into Lacanian realisation leave you no roots to seek shade under.

Remember ‘Weekends and Bleakdays’? It looked like they were just bored in that chip shop. Could you have known? Was there a clue? Maybe. They never fucking cared. Always talking about some man they could see. Fucking idiots. Hertfordshire must be crying its fucking eyes out at the loss. Or maybe they never fucking cared.

Now the doubt makes you queasy. You’d give anything to have it back. Anything but the certainty of this abyss. It might bother you more but you have to give it to them, they’re good. None of it’s contrived, none of it conceited. They don’t know or care if you’re there for most of it, but not so much you hate them for not being as wound up in it as you are.

The album in fullness is a monolith. It would be implacable if it knew you were there. But it doesn’t. This is them and you are you, and the friend you know is gone. Now they are their own self though -purely and distressingly, without care for you, your friendship’s past or your questions. Maybe you had your chance but it isn’t there anymore. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe this is what it always was, you just couldn’t see it. Did they seem happy to you?

Caiaphas in fetters, the solar anus delivered, you disperse to the night.

more photos

Words/photos: Simon Jones

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