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LIVE REVIEW: Hexa, Smokers Die Younger and Remember Honolulu The Harley, Sheffield 8/2/10

February 10, 2010

Arriving at The Harley to hear first on the bill were Remember Honolulu. I was expecting to be transported to the shores of the Mamala Bay, pina colada in hand and a lei round my neck.  How wrong I was. Instead what was offered here was reminscent of early Radiohead, but not nearly as good. The singer wailed incoherently and there was little on-stage presence. However, the band seem to be relatively nascent so hopefully their sound will develop.

Next up were Smokers Die Younger. At ease on their home patch, Smokers took to the stage and lit the fuse for the evening’s proceedings. The vocal duo of James and Amy attract the eye with contained intensity, backed up by a tight rhythm section that maintains a consistent, pulsating drive to the songs. As James introduces ‘Knives’, he wrily quips it is a tribute to Sheffield’s industrial heritage. However, as the song unfolds it becomes quite clear this is not the case. The song is more of a lament regarding the smouldering embers of a failing relationship, with the tricksy couplet ‘Tell me a story feed me a line/You know I fall for your shit all the time’. The following violin solo breaks the hearts of the assembled masses, and Smokers have won over The Harley.

A roadie appears to the left of a stage looking a bit embarrased. He hangs a couple of Chinese lanterns on the lighting rig as the crowd get another drink in. The stage is then bathed in red light. I then proposed my ‘red light theory’ to my mate. This being that anyone, from Wayne Rooney to Winona Ryder, looks twice as attractive under red light. Anyone who has seen Vicky Cristina Barcelona will back me up on this. As will many proprietors in Amsterdam. My friend remained unconvinced, but I’m holding steady. Anyway I digress. Hexa take to the stage, and from the get go it is clear this is going to be fun. Lots of fun. Vocals are split between two girls and a boy. One of the girls coos coyly into the mike and the other stares at you, looking into your soul as she yelps manically. Not forgetting the manpart of the vocal trio who throws himself about the stage like broken bones are flavour of the month. The set is the perfect combination of wistful ballads, yummy, sunny pop punctuated by a punk spirit. Reminded me of Au Revoir Simone if they were to decamp to Cali and hook up with some up-to-no-good young cads. I could ‘woaaaaaah’ to Hexa’s ‘Owl is Yellow’ for the rest of my days. I think ‘Invisible Cat’ is also one of favourite cat songs ever.

Special props to ‘The Beard’ for a marvellous DJ set at the end of the gig (and his South Yorks Goo pisstake tee) and Hexa’s personalised pencils (price negotiable).

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