Aurora Plastic Monster + The High Society @ The Rainbow, Birmingham – 30th June 2008


For those of you who haven’t seen a gig at the Rainbow, find an excuse to. The sound is great and the atmosphere comfortable; A far cry from the slight awkwardness I always find with Bar Academy and Academy 2 gigs.

This gig was my first ‘heavier rock’ gig for a good few years and after hearing samples of music on the various acts’ Myspace I was a little apprehensive. However I really shouldn’t have worried…

First up was Kate Finch. Front woman of Birmingham punk-rock band Strangetime. Unlike many club promoters, the 444 Club who organised the gig actually put acts on as the doors open (8pm) rather than leaving up to ninety minutes between doors opening and the first act playing, which although convenient and refreshing for myself, it means that many people turned up conventionally later than the start time. This also meant that Kate Finch was playing to about ten people. Finch herself commented at one point; “It’s really hard playing to a room that’s not full- not that I’m used to it- but it’s really unnerving.’ To her credit though, apart from the occasional moment when she speculated about whether her acoustic guitar sounded distorted and stopping halfway through a song to ask the monitor to be turned down, she did not appear nervous at all.

Finch’s music is unique in some respects because it feels like she’s taken bona fide punk rock anthems and stripped them to the bare minimum, without adjusting vocally. Although the guitar is played with plenty of attack it still cannot compete with Finch’s harsh, towering voice. However this makes for an intriguing performance as the blend of the two is really interesting. It also gave me a strong desire to see her perform with a band because although she has a great deal of stage presence as a solo act, with Strangetime I imagine she would appear unstoppable. Every one of her songs would suit an arrangement with a full band and I would enjoy hearing them in that fashion.

Second act The Kamikazes opened in typical rock fashion, with plenty of crashing cymbals, heavy distortion and a big bass line. The singer had an Iron Maiden like voice (not that the band are like Iron Maiden, which to me is a good thing.) The guitarist was particularly charismatic to watch as we took up half the stage so large were his movements.

The band played a set full of fast paced, energetic songs, the kind of songs you’d expect to play on Guitar Hero. The singer clearly knew how to work an audience and appeared in every single person in attendance. By this point the audience was starting to fill up nicely so he had a larger crowd to play with. The band also had a rather enthusiastic fan who stood clapping throughout the whole set, shouting encouragement out between songs. My particular favourites were the songs Nothing Lasts Forever, a really catchy, upbeat track that began with a crescendo-ing drum roll and some nice backing vocals. The song before this called Ghost was also nicely different to other songs in the set as the singer sat down to play keyboard.


The High Society was possibly the most hotly anticipated act of the night. Singer Maxi and guitarist Martyn were both in successful rock act King Adora so no doubt there were fans present as they had the biggest crowd of the night. Clearly the band were well trained in the art of rock ‘n’ roll. Their set featured drumming standing up, spitting wars between band members (and the audience), obvious and proud illegal indoor smoking and plenty of guitar shredding. Maxi also vacated the stage at one point and performed on a picnic bench. Now I’m not condoning smoking or law breaking or anything along those lines but as they were onstage and not in the audience it wasn’t an issue to be. It was, however rather amusing.


Music wise there was a proper kick to every song. All the songs had an organic feel, as if they were a product of friends hanging out rather than a labour of love. Maxi also has an incredible voice. As I watched the word ‘flexible’ came to mind. Even during screaming parts of songs he never sounded strained or uncomfortable. “You could join our mailing list after the show…if we had one” He snarled humorously. Every band member had an onstage personality and got stuck into the performance. Ash on the drums threw his sticks in the air multiple times and always caught them expertly and newer guitarist Topper was also really easy to watch. This would be a tough live act to follow by any accounts.


Were they English and better known Norway’s Aurora Plastic Monster would inevitably draw comparison to duo The White Stripes, as in some songs they perform with just a bassist and drummer and often swap lead vocal duties. With the bass guitar blasting out of two amps it provided a heavy backing, and heavy it needed to be to disguise a lack of guitars. Eventually the band was joined by a keyboard player who added a little more substance to the songs with the addition of chords. However, the bass often picked out the root of these chords and most songs had a simply homophonic texture to them. This is not to say I didn’t like them however, They had a likeably casual attitude in the way that they performed and I enjoyed the way their otherwise grungy style was lightened by the electronic sound. As Steve Gerrard, who was behind the camera for the evening commented, they could have done with a guitarist for a bit more support.
All in all, a grand evening!


Review – Frankie Ward
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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2 thoughts on “Aurora Plastic Monster + The High Society @ The Rainbow, Birmingham – 30th June 2008

  1. In my opinion Th Kamikazes are the best new rock n roll act to be seen. Do yorself a favour and take the time to see them.
    An ethusiastic fan.

  2. It’s Gotta Survive that starts with a crescendo-ing drum roll not Nothing Lasts Forever.
    The Kamikazes Rock
    A pedantic fan

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