The late 90s saw the closure of numerous venues across the region, leading to something of a lull in the local music scene, with various local bands disbanding or going into hibernation. The early 00’s finally saw an upturn of live music here in Worcester with the opening of the Marrs Bar along with various pubs taking up the live music mantel and a wave of new and exciting acts spanning the genre spectrum, seemed to seep from every crack of the city.
On Tuesday nights, brand new bands were given a month to ply their trade in front of a live audience made up of like-minded musicians, the intrigued music fan and the humble fanzine scribe. A face from those Kings Head, Battle Of The Bandsdays – Pete Adams, returned to the fray with Chris ‘the drum machine’Wemyss in tow. Firstly as two parts of Fry & Elsie, a band that would go from playing to the sound man and the guy behind the bar, to performing in front of nigh on 150 people. Later uniting with fellow Tuesday night alumni, Lucy Graham (Alice Loves Picasso), as part of And What Will Be Left Of Them?.
AWWBLOT, as they’d be referred to by their burgeoning fanbase, established themselves quickly on the local and national DIY music scene. Known for their blend of scuzzy pop hooks, infectious synth melodies and punky girl/boy yelps, the band soon found themselves treading the boards with the likes of Art Brut, The Hot Puppies, The Pigeon Detectives and Kate Nash, between packed out headlining home town slots. A clutch of singles were released through like-minded indie labels such as Filthy Little Angels, The Little Hellfire Club and Pop Art London, attracting interest and radio play from the likes of Artorcker, Drowned In Sound, Steve Lamacq, Huw Stephens and Jon Kennedy, whilst the release of their debut album in 2009. The Hi-Fi Lowlife met with critical if not commercial acclaim upon it’s release.
Following a series of line-up changes the band eventually decided to call it a day, surfacing only once, despite repeated reformation calls, for a definitive line-up performance in 2011.
In 2015 a tremor of AWWBLOT activity was felt with the release of a singles collection featuring a brand new track. Five years on and rumours abound that AWWBLOT were to make their live, local return – and then the world turned upside down and the metaphorical bolt came thudding down on live music – we were so close…
But fear not, the clarion call for live AWWBLOT action has been heard. The band have rummaged and discovered a live, warts and all Pop-Art show, dating back to their 2007 heyday and with ‘no expenses spent’, the band have duly delivered the perfect, early Christmas present (or Lockdown relief package if you you prefer!!) for the discerning, synth-splattered indie fan.
If you close your eyes and hit play, you’re immediately transported back in time. Pete’s fiddling with his amp, missing the compares introduction with Chris is poised, ready to beat his kit into submission. Lucy’s coiled like a spring waiting to bounce into action, Matthew Pooler is waiting to strike those first unmistakable synth chords and bassist Joe Beech is hopping from foot to foot. A final fumble and away we go. Adams yelping the wordless refrain of DIY Not DIE as the band come crashing in. Lucy takes the mic, the energy is both immediate and infectious, it’s hard not to bounce off the walls let alone chant along.
A shout out to the Pop-Art label, then the military drums of Wemyss, and Pete telling the audience to ‘shut up’ as ‘I’m trying to be a Rock N Roll star’ frame an effervescent take on Come With Me. Those aforementioned synth melodies come to the fore on Orlick! Orlick!, while a darker Grace proves that there was more to AWWBLOT than whooping choruses, as the band stretch out during a rumbling middle section. However when it does come to whoops and hollers, few can match AWWBLOT and Four Years To Become An Artist, with a hook so addictive it can’t be legal and the full throttle vocal interplay between Adams and Graham toiling away for you… Art has never sounded so much fun.
Like every AWWBLOT gig I’ve ever attended (and that’s a fair few), the thrills come thick and fast. From Jesus and Damn You Dance to Pete’s (or is it Jake Shears) self-hyped falsetto on the drum and synth crescendo of Kids In America, each and every song makes me want to cast aside inhibitions and dance round the living room with blinds wide open. The home from home, Pop-Art crowd bay for more and AWWBLOT duly reply with an electrified Dripping Wet and a final frantic run through Calling All Cars, before bidding their final farewell’s. The band’s performance and this live bootleg comes to a close, I still find myself wanting more and yes I could (and did) hit the repeat. This brilliant no-fi document has only served to whet the appetite, perhaps a live return for Worcester’s finest export since the sauce, is the only thing that will truly satisfy.
By: Will Munn