Bitch Alert & 3 Colours Red
6 July 2004, Manchester Academy 3
They brought along another guitarist. That was one question answered, about how they'd produce the weight of sound they create on record. Of course some groups manage a big sound without that, but I imagine this touring arrangement enabled Heinie (left) to concentrate on the vocals.
So here I was, at probably my last gig before the Summer, catching Bitch Alert on tour. I got their album ..rriot a little while back and it's had heavy play. Their music has loads of personality and I figured they'd be fun live, so I got cousin Pete to come along for this. He generally drives people around so I spared him that this time and he took advantage at the bar. But I don't think it was the drink talking when he said he enjoyed both these bands. And he hadn't heard of either before. Me, I hadn't knowingly heard 3 Colours Red, the headline band, before this show either.
Just think about the lot of the support band, playing sometimes a very different style of music in front of a crowd who've really come to see somebody else. As we walked in, I did overhear somebody say the next band were a 'girl band' - I wonder if he was surprised by what he got? I think I was, a bit. Not because I expected a 'girl band', but because I thought they'd be more extrovert. I have seen one live review of them headlining, referring to lots of banter and rapport etc., but here though they put plenty into the songs, they seemed a bit restrained to me. The crowd liked them well enough. Me, I'd like to see them headline to hear how they can really let rip with this material.
And play more of their songs than half an hour allowed. Like I Love You, I missed that one. Actually I missed just about everything from the album they couldn't fit into the allotted time, but that's too bad. They started off with Sunsets You Know and finished off with Loveson, which I guess was predictable since it is reckoned the album's strongest track. In fact Heinie put her guitar aside for that. It was a bit odd, like she didn't know what to do with her hands. Not the case, I'm sure, but I prefer her axe in hand. It was one of two songs Pete made a point of saying he liked, the other being Big Brother's Secret which pleased me a lot since it's one of my favourites and it doesn't seem to get much attention.
Other very welcome songs were Rockets and Sandy - that one really stood out, not that it's weak on record but it came over with extra strength and character live. And then there was Monday. Could I contain my excitement? Not really, good thing it was dark um anyway I am delighted to be able to say that Heinie produces that yelping screech every bit as excitingly live as she does on record. And incidentally she said it was their next single which is good news except for the sensitive who may encounter some kids singing that angry chorus within earshot.
Huh, this is the trouble, I get an album and am surprised by it, play it loads and think, ah, I'll get over it by seeing them this once, but now I'd like to see them again, expecially with a longer set. Pete was well pleased and fired up. Me, I can see that Bitch Alert had a lot in reserve on this occasion but they were still well good. And I have to say Maritta looked fantastic and cool in black hair (red on the album cover), Kimmo spends most of his time sideways on (see right) so he can give us the benefit of his hair tossing act, while Heinie looks like nothing and no one else... weirdly tiny but big in person, with acres of active black around and beneath her eyes... Finland, damn, they're not going to be back for a while are they? (Oh yes they were, and fabulously so - 20 September, for In The City)
3 Colours Red was going to be interesting one way or another. One reason I was unfamiliar with them is that they've recently come back after a two year break. Funny to see this decent sized crowd coming out of the woodwork for them. And I can't remember when I last saw so much stage diving cept I wouldn't want to exaggerate, it was only really a couple of people doing it, notably a cheeky chappie type in a NY Yankees cap (though the most offensive thing was his repeated mooning from the stage, once was enough no thank you very much). So they gave the stage staff a fair amount of work. I guess it wouldn't have been easy to actually get up on stage, because all three front men had a thing for standing right up over the front, dominating the crowd at the front. Yeah they had a mature power and presence to them. The main vocalist man, the bassist (left below) definitely has a look of having been away for some time, he's currently the spitting image of that Ranulph Fiennes explorer bod, though wearing somewhat less than you'd need in Antarctica, tee shirt and tattoos. Notice the double microphone setup, he used the other one for interesting vocal effects. Smoke purple and green... hard piledriving rock music. No recognition factor personally, but me and Pete both found it very satisfying. Nuff to make me look out this new album or one of the other two.
The band's site. Did you know that Finnish isn't remotely related to most other European languages? I mention this because the guestbook entries are mainly written in Finnish. As you'd expect. So it's hard to even guess at except for the English words they sometimes throw in. I love looking at Finnish. It's got a fascinating visual pattern to it, all pitter pattering in i's and t's and u's and k's. Anyway, going by the English offerings, it seems to be about 50-50 whether they fancy Heinie or Maritta.
This seems to have been reorganised just in time for 3 Colours Red's new album. Flashed but not offensively so. Decent browny design feel though some of the text goes missing on the right in the scrollable window. Back and ebullient, as they are in person.