From our conversation after the band had finished their tumultuous and triumphant, if somewhat sonically impaired (due I’m sure to the rudimentary sound equipment) performance, I’m led to believe that the Cardiff The Loves inhabit is one of general antipathy, and which has a cliquey disregard to the band. While Cardiff's rejection of them concerns them, London latently loves The Loves. Their resolutely energetic performance is met with a great reception, but unfortunately no encores were forthcoming. So what ? They’re such a boring perfunctory rock tradition anyway. What we get tonight more than compensates for such a minor complaint.

The Loves are a genuine reason to believe in music again. They are a band whose songs resonate with hope, optimism and unbridled joy. They are people who quite obviously believe that the power of pop can transform and enhance life, to make the day slightly more bearable and the nights a little shorter and less foreboding. I know this because their music does exactly that. It is simple but not facile, stirring but not laboured. It almost explodes with verve, spirit and style. Did I mention zest, vivacity and vigour? No? Oh well, I don’t want to sound gushing.

Live their sound shows less of the thin wild mercury sound of their records and somewhat more flexible, has an added buoyancy and toughness. Comparing the Loves on record to live is like when you were younger and bought records in a plain paper cover that you took home and played to death. Then one sunny day, the record is sold to you in a picture sleeve. The mystique, quality and excitement are still there, but there’s a big glossy picture with added tactile appeal. This only adds to draw you deeper into the band’s world.

Tonight we are treated to genuine pop classics, some rock underground music, the odd Velvets “inspired” riff, perhaps a Small Faces “sample” and a Bob Dylan cover.

While Pnosni grapples with his guitar and a desperate lack of space in the wings, the Loves play on regardless with a plucky ‘show must go on’ attitude. They hardly seem to break stride. The superb ‘Boom-a-bang-bang-bang’, ‘Bobby D’ and excellent ‘Depeche Mode’ are my favourites tonight, but on another night under different circumstances it could equally be, ‘Shake Your Bones’ or the beautiful ‘She’ll Break Your Heart’. Bob Dylan’s ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine’ (sung as a birthday tribute) is turned on its head so many times that the great man would be hard pushed to distance it any more (as is his wont) from the original. Live they lose none of the delicious gaudiness or raw edges of their records, but these qualities are augmented perfectly by a fuller sounding robustness.

This band has it in them to be a great Indie band. If they are indeed ruffling feathers in the Cardiff music scene it might seem to them a little disconcerting and frustrating, but when they release records of the quality that they do and seemingly effortlessly conspire to perform a set like this one regularly, then you can see why people may feel threatened. Don’t be denied the pleasure of seeing this band live; you will otherwise live to regret it.

The photos that accompany this article were taken by Bob Stuart and originally appeared on his website

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Commenting On: London Betsey Trotwood, 24/5/2002 - Loves

ie London, England

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