Today is the first work day of the new year. Perhaps going to spend three nights in a North London pub was not really a good idea, as I am already beginning to show signs of flu and the following week I am off sick from my job for the most part of it.

Winter Sprinter shows have, however, always been super cool and worth attending. Most people here are very young, apart from a few of us oldies and musos who remember it from its early days when it was run by the Track and Field Organisation. Track and Field can, however, no longer afford to run their club or even their label, but in its time this was their event. Fortuna Pop!, however, now runs it in the true spirit of old school Track and Field. Both were old friends and formed in the late 1990's at the same time. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are the main stars at Fortuna Pop! and have made sure that Fortuna Pop! at least still remains with us.

The Lexington has a big floor space and is a decent venue. The merchandise stall, however, is in a corner lit by a yellow light so dim that you can't see what you are trying to buy and that a lot of it is old Track and Field stuff reduced to give away prices.

Shrag, the original headliners, have pulled out of their top space tonight due to illness, so the bill has rearranged. Of the three bands playing tonight, I only know the Loves, who are not really my thing but show themselves nevertheless to be a great band when they close the night.

Evans the Death open the gig. They are a five piece from Clapham and Chelmsford and bash out their sound in true indie fashion. The singer is a blonde girl called Katherine Whitaker, but to me the real star of the group is the red-headed bass player, Olly Moss, who I have seen before in at least one other band. He may have a very twee and awful 1970s-style haircut. His hands, however, are all over that instrument, showing that he knows his craft very well. The band are very young, but their shambolic form of twee indie pop has attitude and their most famous song, 'Sleeping Song', goes down very well.

Standard Fare come on next. They are a three piece from Sheffield and don't look like what you would expect a band with a name like that to look like at all. The trio, which consists of female bass playing singer Emma Kupa and guitarist Danny Howe and drummer Andy Bez, released last year a 7" single, 'Philadelphia', and an album,'The Noyelle Bague', and also played two tours of the United States. A split single with a Boston-based band One Happy Island entitled 'Standard Fare on 'One Happy Island' is also on its way. The likeable group play in a fiery manner and have a chunky sound, their meaty guitar licks showing a strong American influence.

The Loves, who are from Cardiff, are calling it a day in February, but, although they have only been asked to take over as headliners the day before, have arranged this alongside two other forthcoming Lodon dates. The band have been together for ten years, released four albums and made no money which is a good enough reason to stop.

They play for about thirty minutes with an eleven song set, starting off with 'WTF?'. They begin by telling us that they haven't rehearsed for a long time, but they sound pretty together. 'WTF?' is very slick with a vibe that sounds like Beatles spoof band, the Rutles. This is very polished and as it progresses throws in a stabbing grungy guitar line.

'That Boy' follows and sounds like a love song sung as a football anthem. It is a love song for young sweethearts everywhere backed by a killer guitar solo. 'Xs and Os' has a shambolic groove with sweet backing harmonies and is a decent 60's style garage rock number.

'I Lost My Doll to Rock 'n' Roll, is a twee headbopper, which puts a smile on our winter faces. 'Heartbeat' is normally sung by female singer Jenna Love who is not here present as it is a school night, and, with front man Simon Love taking over her vocals, it is a slow burner, with added grit.

'Guess I'm Falling' is a cover to be included on a free EP of covers to be given away to the first first paying punters at the farewell gig, which will take place on the 13th February, again at the Lexington. 'I'm Sly' is fast and riffy with a great wall of feedback at the end. The band then present their drummer with a birthday cake and sing 'Happy Birthday' to him and put on party hats until they notice that they can't sing in them.

'Motherfuckers', their current single, which you can buy tonight for £2, is next and is followed by both sides of their last single. 'Bubblegum', its B side, is like a garage rock flavoured version of Tender Trap, while 'December Boy', its A side, sounds very much like a Christmas number,

The DJ, Paul, stands in for the Velvet Underground's Doug Yule who plays Jesus on 'It's the End of the World'. It is this song that is about talking to Jesus which closes the first night at the Lexington.


The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Dani Cantó www.danticanto.com











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