TheSTART Live @ Barfly, Cardiff (UK) - 2nd December 2007

In the deepest darkest recesses of my mind lies a semi forgotten half truth, that like some twisted old fruit of a relative comes back to haunt me every now and then. And I have this growing compulsion to just tell you all that "I love 80s Synth Pop".

There I've said it.

Aimee Echo's "TheSTART" are not so much purists of the genre, but their twisted glam/punk take on it is certainly enough for Cardiff's freak scene to assemble to pay homage. This is "TheSTART's" first trip to the UK in around 5 years and in between they have been signed to two major labels and toured with the likes of "Garbage" "Rancid" and "The Used". Yet it is this years "Ciao Baby" release that has seen them return to an independent label and the more electronic sound base they fostered on their 2001 debut album "Shakedown!".

So it is no real surprise that this newest line up of "TheSTART focuses their collective aims on delivering songs from these two albums in particular.

Aimee's long-term song writing compadre "Jamie Millar" on low-slung guitar and synths is the focal point of the maelstrom that unfolds, as he weaves the simple hooks of "Wartime" and "Gorgeous" amongst some caustic fretwork. Jamie's on stage antics totally belying his androgynous offstage persona. The arrival of "Chelsea Davis" and "Lance Webber" on drums and bass respectively is something of a masterstroke, with both new recruits singing every word as they thundered headlong into the 50 or so diehards doing just the same. Chelsea in particular, looking and sounding not unlike a Joan Jett version of Tommy Lee, all street cool and one hell of a drummer.

During the hour "short" set some real surprises raised their heads, in the shape of an awesome Siouxsie and Banshees cover of "Cities in Dust" plus a dusting down of ""The 1234" from the Death Via Satellite EP, which on hearing the teddy boy (yup I said Cardiff's eclectic crowd were in, and I meant it) stood next to me almost pissed himself with excitement. But the highlight was when "Shakedown" was set amongst us like some 80's pop exocet, laying waste to the wasted.

This really was a special kind of gig, as it reaffirmed my belief in being in a band "for the music". The fans here tonight, as diverse of lifestyle and dedicated to all things "TheSTART" have to offer, just proved me right. Fuck fashion, these guys and gals just wanted to fucking rock n roll (albeit with a few keyboards).

Don't miss this band. They really are special, so fucking special.

by Johnny H.

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