New Musical Express

28 May 1983

Live review


Strawberry Switchblade
The Pastels
April Showers
The Primevals

Glasgow, The Venue

'SPONTANEOUS HAPPENING' says the sign outside the door. In fact, this evening has been planned for months, the spontaneous bit being whether The Pastels - who just happen to be the headline band - will bother to show up.

Exchange my ticket for a lucky bag and the game begins. It's a role playing game, called 'Let's pretend we're a band/we're an audience' and I sit at the sidelines (perhaps better known as the bar) totting up the scores. The rules are strictly 'punk rock ethic' and the pitch is definitely wet. I guess this might be what you call the making of a cult - they certainly look like silly cults anyway.

I also take the role of resident mug for (a) having come in the first place, and (b)for still being here, but an overwhelming desire to see Strawberry Switchblade again roots me to my seat. On with the scoring...

The Primevals are neither in their prime nor particularly evil. Take an extra throw for being able to play your instruments - go back to start for not being able to tune them and playing Stooges covers.

April Showers go forward two places for having James of Friends Again playing with them; but, whoops, slip down the snake of success for not rehearsing and so ruining a perfectly lovely song, 'Never Had A Dream Come True'. Back to the studio with you two!

The Pastels, as the name suggests, are nursery toons for the under fives with weak Pete Shelley impersonations and an even wetter interpretation of the 'Spirit Of Punk Rock'. All their throws are free - after all, it's their ball. Slip down the snake for forgetting this is Playschool and not The Rolf Harris Show and having a 'performance artist' daub on the back wall 'BYHO CKNEY' (work it out) on the back wall while you're playing. Is this Art? Is this Rock n Roll? Is this pretentious? Oh boy!

Then, STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE - the sweetest girls.

This is the first time they've appeared live for months. It's a try-out, a dress rehearsal, and they re-emerge like polka-dot butterflies, all slow smiles and shy nods. Slipping on to stools and hugging their guitars they play five songs, a short but sugary set. Through 'What Love Is', 'Won't Wave Goodbye', 'Deep Water' and 'Go Away' they chart the depths of love and generally come up with a welly boot, slide away into an unreality of heartbreak and then fall in love all over again. With soft guitars and glorious vocals from both Rose and Carol [sic] they sound like a long, hot summer. Charming in their hesitance. The last song is so new it doesn't even have a name.

Strawberry Switchblade win by a mile. And they're not even playing this game.