Doll and the Kicks + Little L @ The Flapper, Birmingham 9th October 2010


And so on to Doll and the Kicks 2010 – Part 2 with tonight, proving to offer more support for my personal theory that the band’s ability to tear the place up is in inverse proportion to the exotic nature of Hannah Scanlon’s outfits. She walked on stage looking positively subdued in leggings and a hoody with the hood pulled over her face, so much so that some of the sparse crowd thought that it was a sound check.


There was nothing subdued about the set though, their guitar, bass and drums always produce a surprisingly full sound and in a small venue it’s like a wall. The fluted ceiling in The Flapper seemed to concentrate the sound and energy of the band round the front of the stage ,which is a good job as just like at the Hare and Hounds earlier in the year, the band deserved a much bigger audience to match their performance than the one that they got. On the face of it little has changed since that last appearance in Birmingham in February The set contained the usual favourites and despite the inclusion of the two songs from their new single we were in familiar territory.


Unfamiliar territory, or at least unfamiliar to me, was supplied by Laura, also known as Little L and her companion on live appearances Steven (Jos) Joesbury. Her MySpace page claims that they sound like a “pineapple kissing an orange”. I don’t know about that but they approached the whole thing with an appealing naivety that I think probably belied a much more crowd-savvy background than they were willing to let on. Laura played the self deprecating card to the full pretending to forget which key their songs were in deferring to Jos – “the master of the keys” – each time. Songs like Superman and Noisy Neighbour show their upbeat approach to an acoustic format that with other artists can sometimes deteriorate into morbid ramblings about how awful things are. No such negativity here. They even managed to slot in a cover of Poker Face; even more quirky than the original.


As appealing as they may be Doll and the Kicks do not display any naivety. If anything tonight they came over all world weary. For all the energy and enthusiasm there was something else in the room. Maybe this was due to too much time on the road but perhaps also born of frustration. In spite of a fair bit of PR to the contrary their new single was not available on the merch, a result of a cock up at “the printers” and one of the consequences of having no record deal. The double header Skeletons/The First Time is already available on download and they implored us to buy it or “else we’ll stave – we’re not joking!”.

They didn’t seem lacking in sustenance when charging through the staple highlights of the set Roll Up The Red Carpet, If You Care, You Turn Up and He Was a Dancer. The new songs from the recent release did seem to represent and old and new feel with Skeletons like a typical Doll and the Kicks song (far better live IMHO) whilst The First Time sounds like a more run-of-the-mill tune perhaps aimed at the US market.


The record deal issue is a strange one. Admittedly they are hard to pin down, not quite pop, not quite indie, but I would have thought that in these days of bland X-factor pap a bit of individuality would be a valuable commodity. There’s also the Morrissey factor (“Moz who”), something that the band seem to wear on their shoulders like a weight, and somewhat disingenuously given the number of Moz t-shirts and tattoos on show in the audience. There stint supporting the be-quiffed one certainly gained then a few more fans.

No bows, no big sparkly pants, just a great gig although Olivier the bass player did try to take an early bath one tune before the end, forgetting the set list. Maybe the world weary feel was just tiredness after all.


Set list:
Broken Heart
What Goes Around
Roll Up The Red Carpet
The First Time
If You Care
You Turn Up
My Hands
He Was A Dancer
He’s A Believer

Review –  Ian Gelling
Photos –  Steph Colledge

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