Neon Neon’s MySpace advertises their genre as “Electro / Pop”. Accordingly, I hoped that this band were going to do me some aural good, but was steeling myself for disappointment in the form of a keyboard line stuck on top of boring indie guitar. I like classic electro – stuff that isn’t afraid to use that extra synth, sound effect or sleek bassline. Neon Neon delivered on all three counts and more besides.
Hip-hop duo Yo! Majesty seemed an unlikely support act for the vintage-y electro-pop of Neon Neon; yet somehow this eclectic combination worked beyond my wildest dreams, covering both poles of my personal pop palate. Yo! Majesty are a hilarious, loud and downright bonkers duo, purveyors of big heavy beats topped with rap, hand-waving choruses and gospel moments thrown in. These two ballsy women didn’t just work the crowd – they communed with it. Packaged or predictable they are not. They also sang a song in praise of leather jackets, which made me feel good because I happened to be sporting one.
My electro-lite fears were swept away once and for all with Neon Neon’s arrival. In place of achingly cool razor blade cheekbones and a penchant for cravats, we were presented with a sweaty, podgy, balding figure wearing gold spangled arm warmers. My memory initially refused to yield information concerning this vision’s name – but did repeatedly flash up the reminder: “HE SNOGGED KATE MOSS.” Yes, ladies and gents – Har Mar Superstar is still about!
Neon Neon equals musician-technicians Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) and Boom Bip, joined on Thursday by the supreme Cate Le Bon and the inimitable Har Mar. Keyboards, synths and electric drumkits a go-go made such a sublime sound that the stage seemed to be taking off at times. Songs managed to be unbelievably catchy without being maddening. Think Gnarls Barkley in a car wash with Duran Duran on a good day, and you get some idea of what these guys can do.
Beautifully, they’re all totally at ease with performing, but don’t come off as snooty: their collective sense of humour is deadpan, abundant and infectious. Mr. Superstar, in awesome contrast, tumbled around like a roly-poly baby bear in a superhero costume. I don’t think he could pull off ‘deadpan’ if his life depended on it.
So fear not, pop fans: electro is not dead. It’s alive and well and living in Neon Neon’s bedroom.