Deadcuts’ debut live show took place at the Signal Gallery in Shoreditch back in March 2012, and the band have already formed a bit of a following. Mark Keds (vocals, guitar) of the late eighties’/mid-nineties’ indie punk wonder Senseless Things put the band together with other seasoned musicians such as Mark McCarthy (Wonder Stuff, Mick Jones, Queen Adreena) on bass, Trevor Sharp (Miranda Sex Garden, Minty, Medieval Babes) on drums and Jerome Alexandre (Sylvain Sylvain, Skuzzies, Warning to the Curious) on guitar. A split single with The Hip Priests was released in February this year with the track ‘Kill Desire’.
For tonight’s headline gig on a hot Wednesday night, a large crowd has congregated outside the Water Rats in King’s Cross in an attempt to keep cool and inside, the bar is buzzing. The stage is bathed in red light when the spiky haired and undeniably charismatic guitarist Jerome Alexandre walks onstage and brings on the feedback. The rest of the band follow and launch into ‘Without Love’. McCarthy’s bass is absolutely thundering where I am standing, albeit in a good way, and never lets up during the entire gig. I cannot help but wonder if I have been transported back in time, so reminiscent of nineties indie the opener sounds. The band segue smoothly straight into ‘Pray For Jail’ a faster number which, due to the really loud and raw sound tonight, sounds more punk than the recorded version. By the time ‘I Won't Leave’ kicks in, the rest of the crowd has been enticed to leave the bar and the sweltering room is pretty packed. ‘Still Shotting’ has a black sulkiness and the drums and bass take the forefront here, with nice backing vocals from Alexandre to a rather wonderful effect. The crowd, which has been fairly quiet until now, finally starts showing signs of having a pulse.
‘Breaking Up Midnight’, of which Boyd Rice has done a remix, sounds absolutely anthemic tonight, with a quiet/loud dynamic and guitar parts so beautifully haunting I swear I can see grown men shed a tear into their pints. Mark Keds is an enigmatic frontman; deathly pale, made up with eyeliner, possessing the intensity of a tortured soul in a Poe tale, and cheekbones that could cut glass. There is not much interaction with the audience tonight, just the odd ‘thanks’, ‘cheers’ and ‘how you doing’, and a shout-out to Mudkiss (we say thank you). It’s a non-stop ride of one song after another.‘Dusk Chasers’ follows, a melancholic, almost shoegazey pop number full of longing, with Mark joining Jerome in some impromptu ‘woo-oohs’ at the end which cracks a smile on the singer’s face. ‘Speed Sisters’ shows another side of Deadcuts, a track with obvious shades of post-punk, and it is a well-timed and sublimely executed change of style. The track receives an enthusiastic response from the crowd. All the songs are short and some of them sound so good that I actually wish they lasted a bit longer.
The sinister ‘Split Personality’ sounds rough around the edges. Trevor Sharp never loses focus behind the drums, shaking his head side to side and just getting down to business. ‘Caution Exorcists’ picks up the pace and its sonic soundscape is as vast as the Arizona desert, and the slightly rough sound tonight suits it well. Overall, the melodies are beautiful and a special mention has to go to the guitars which pack a punch varying from soft, delicate sweeps to downright dirty, slummy riffing. The crowd is loud enough now to get the band back onstage for a couple of encores. Keds sings the darkly romantic, sultry lyrics to ‘Kill Desire’ with a vacant look, nicely backed up by Sharp and McCarthy, the latter of whom exudes cool nonchalance throughout the gig. The closer ‘Obsession’ sounds raw, noisy and not as straightforward as most of the other tracks, and leaves me pondering what more the band have to offer in future. A quick cheers from Keds follows and the gig ends the way it started; with feedback from Alexandre’s guitar.
An intense band, an intense gig. Whilst not forgetting Keds’ indie/punk roots, there are elements of post-punk and atmospheric, sweeping alternative rock with a punk twist which makes for an intoxicating, and at times soul stirring mix. It is difficult not to make comparisons of the pairing and the chemistry of Keds/Alexandre to the memorable partnership of Barât/Doherty (for the anoraks out there, Keds co-wrote The Libertines hit ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’), and befittingly the band performed some shows with Peter Doherty in Paris recently. However, musically Deadcuts stand on their own feet. Keep your ear to the ground – this band could well be going places, and it would be a real shame to miss their ascent to bigger stages.
Deadcuts are currently recording an EP with producer Harvey Birrell (Buzzcocks/Therapy?), due for release this autumn. This coincides with the band’s official website being launched, with some free downloads of tracks.