The Exorsisters Live @ The Cellar Bar Courtyard Festival (UK) - 2005

There's a moment in Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine where it seems that Pandora's box is broken wide open. Leaving a festival disgusted and depressed Brian Slade (Jonathon Rhys Meyers) is summoned back to the stage by a primeval howl from the darkness. The stage flares up to show Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor, Iggy to Meyer's Bowie) a trailer trash madman rocketing into a version of The Stooges 'TV Eye'. Covered in glitter and thrashing like a wolverine, Wild assaults the crowd with spit, anger and a bare backside before leaving the stage a mass of flames and feedback. In terms of narrative and visuals, the scene is a bombshell; shambolic, energetic and dangerously inspirational.

Watching the gloriously trashy Exorsisters at this year's Cellar Bar Festival I couldn't help but be reminded of this unhinged piece of cinema. Galloping onto the stage with decibelic fury they sent an electric ripple through the crowd, turning the dial to the level marked, 'frantic and demented, proceed with caution'. In all their glittered, eyeliner excess represented an almighty kick up the backside to anyone who's ever thought the north was merely a hinterland of flat caps and tired pub rock.

As ever, there was a rampant fearlessness on display. Kurt's onstage shockery comprised of wax dripping and audience licking. This went hand in hand with an unashamed peddling of maximum rock action, complete with soaring, flaming guitar solos. As a unit, the band set a frenetic pace, thudding out a beat as if dominated by an invisible clock; trying to capture some fleeting fever pitch of energy before it fades away forever. With T-Rex and Blondie covers glam is pretty much their weapon of choice, but looking less like sparkling icons than (and I mean this in a good way) the survivors of a heavy night in a particularly twisted Weimar Cabaret, The Exorsisters have, dare I say it, a point to make. Their glam is not the empty narcissism of Bowie but the snarling defiance of Iggy/Wild. By flirting with an ambiguous sexual identity and creating a dirty, unholy noise, they celebrate that which 'conventional' society would say is wrong. Their message, then, although buried under make-up and spitting beer is that by picking up a guitar and thrashing out a rhythm, you've suddenly got a conduit to some very powerful magic. You can transform yourself into anything you want and breakdown any barrier the world tries to put in front of you.

by James Riley

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