Guest Blog! Nicola reviews Palma Violets at Cambridge Junction, March 20 2013


As covered in other reviews describing their tour to date, this band is shambolic.  On reflection I think it’s a studied and practised shambles, giving their set its air of spontaneity, of keeping it fresh for the audience. Not that these lads are trying to deceive.  They are a celebration of noise, youth and verve. And, they are a party. Judging by the keyboard player’s mighty fine collection of wrist bands, they must have had a great festival season last year and can’t wait to pick up where they left off this year.

The PV came on stage to The Damned’s New Rose.  A whole generation of music fans think of The Smiths every time they hear Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture, so these little details are important.  Furthermore, it set the tone for their set and gave us their mission statement.  They had been very ably supported by Baby Strange, a Scottish Sham 69  (and nowt wrong with that.  Even if derivative, they played a strong and well-received set.  It was shouty but the band maintained the fine line of not letting it become noise. You know that those who weren’t there in the day will take to it like ducks to water.)

Back to the party…

Given the age of the band and that they look like they have just got back from several days at Glasto having had their tent and all their clothes stolen, and don’t know what a comb is for (they’re boys, for goodness sake!), it’s not surprising their bombastic delivery is based on the discovery that amps really do go up to 11 (in their heads their do!) and Sir has wandered off from the music room so they scratch away at their guitars and beat the hell out of their drum kit for all their worth.

The lyrics of the first two PV songs were indiscernible (in the spirit of the gig me working them out by a process of elimination would be, well, taking them, myself and this review too seriously).  Thereafter, they ripped through the up and coming generation’s seminal CD of tunes.  It won’t take a genius to work out that it was not a long set.

When the band and the audience’s reaction merge and feed off one another it becomes an event.  Okay, in this instance a mini-event – it was hardly Pulp at Glastonbury.  The audience went wild (one’s heart goes out to Johnny Marr and his fans last week who were denied this Cambridge audience and wanted some reaction – anything!  Instead of the quiet, considered appreciation of Cantabrigians).  The unified response quickly turned into pushing and shoving and on occasion spilled over into bad reactions to unsolicited jabs and trodden feet, as it had done with the support band, prompting an appeal from the band.  Whilst it looked like the majority of the audience were sixth-formers, there were some youngsters with cautious parents and those that had been there in the day with in-between generations hardly represented.  (We spoke to a ‘seen better days’ father and his daughter in the queue for the cloakroom after the gig.  It turned out the daughter was the nominated driver!)

The lads, their play list, the audience’s reaction all smack of zeitgeist.  Are they just capturing a mood and a ‘you had to be there’ moment?  Was the gig evidence of the up and coming generation’s reaction to ceaseless bad news and lack of prospects – who wants to live with their parents forevermore because they can’t afford to buy and rents are extortionate? Hence, the two bands’ material harking back to punk’s glory days and the audience being ready for it – needing it!

Having abandoned the guide to delivering a good set, it calls to mind the Blade Runner (mis) quote: ‘a light that burns twice as bright burns half as long’.  Certainly, the PV boys are having a blast but will it translate into more?  The lead singer has got a driven-in voice that smooths out any rough edges and won’t let them down as they progress musically.  And, the band are right behind him.

The party peaked with an encore of 14.  The PV mate’s had already been invited on stage to join in with some shouting in a mic duties at the end of the set.  This time he was joined by the support band. As the houselights came on and the Junction staff started to sweep up, the band’s mate swept through the crowd shouting, gathering people like the pied piper of Hamelin, insisting the party wasn’t over determined to take it elsewhere.

In a nutshell: the gig was a party and, the best bit, everyone was invited.



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