The Smoking Kills
@ The Underground, Stoke
20th February 2010
Well, shit. The Underground certainly lives up to its name, its bunker-like ambience dank and dusty with the neglect of long decay. The bare concrete floor is dusted with a light coating of dirt and in a darkened corner ancient red seats haemorrhage yellowing stuffing which hangs forlornly in strips. Transcending the bleakness, The Smoking Kills light up the venue like a distress flare, emerging from the darkness in a whirlwind of sound and light.
The band walk on stage, pause long enough for singer/guitarist Paul
Carter to nonchalantly announce the name of the first song and then
they explode into Cat and Mouse, a sublime slice of rock/pop
which sounds like The Music trying to seduce The Breeders in a downmarket
indie disco. The alternating vocals of Chantal and Suzie are in turns
sweet and powerful, a vacillating dynamic that seems to be the bands
trademark. This is swiftly followed by Kiddo, a song whose
warmth and irrepressible bouncing riff galvanises the rather sluggish
crowd into movement. The pop perfection of the sha-la-la
chorus is simply irresistible.
A few more dancefloor fillers later the band change pace, the urgent guitar and rather brutal drumming of Starladen moving away from the soulful songs that preceded it. The powerful female vocals sound like Siouxsie Sioux in an unholy alliance with Karen O and combine with Pauls soulful vocals to propel the song forward until you never want it to stop.
Two songs later the band disappear with nary a backwards look, leaving behind a jumping dancefloor seemingly populated with new fans. Growing like fragrant roses from the industrial wasteland of Stoke, The Smoking Kills are a breath of fresh air, offering a perfect synthesis of punk aggression, rock and indie. I urge you in the strongest possible terms to check them out as soon as possible. Youll be glad you did.
Photos Katie Lowe