Hardcore Superstar & Gemini 5, @ The Underworld, Camden, London, UK. 4/2/04

While Gemini 5 receive a rapturous reception, its occasionally necessary to pinch yourself during their set and check this isn’t the main act already. Offering a similar blend of Backyard Babies theme punk’n’roll and broken English banter to the headliners, the Swedish quartet are an enjoyable, if generic, starter. As energetic onstage as its possible to be without ruining hair that deliberately greased and mussed they have an engaging stage presence, backed up by a gloriously mindless collection of debauched tales set to borrowed Babies riffs. ‘Automatic Cool’ ups the IQ score a little by cleverly referencing the lyrics of the heroes to make some kind of unintentionally ironic point about how ripping people off give you ‘automatic cool’, or something, while a punk rock cover of Caffeine’s ‘You Spin Me Right Round’ is a great mosh-along finale. Not exactly original but certainly good for brightening a Wednesday night.

As if to add conclusive proof that they’re putting Jack Daniel in the water over in Scandinavia, or least that Dregans crew are putting sleaze in the charts still, Hardcore Superstar roll out in creepers and tatts attire, ready to rock London. But there’s bad copies and then there are bands that while they may not be doing anything radical, are doing what they do damned well and its not without good reason that Hardcore Superstar are one of the leading lights in the Scandinavian Invasion. Tonight’s set is almost a complete resume of their talents, showcasing material from 2000’s ‘Bad Sneakers and A Pina Colada, through ‘Thankyou For Letting Us Be Ourselves’, right up to the newly released ‘No Regrets’. Early singles ‘Hello/Goodbye’ and ‘Hey Now’ instigate the heaving pit you’d anticipate, while newer tracks also receive a surprisingly warm and familiar reception. While HCSS certainly have songs to be a success its frontman Jocke Berg, acting a rock’n’roll ringmaster centrestage in flailing leathers and sunglasses in doors at night, coz he’s just so fuckin’ cool he just can, who holds the show together. A suave showman he flirts shamelessly with the crowd, grabbing hands and flashing grins, before dedicating a new song to his girlfriend. In a nod to another native influence the boys also chuck in a cover of Hanoi Rock’s classic ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’. Before they’ve even departed the stage, the cries of ‘more’ are starting up and get answer with a high-energy, punked-up 3-song strong treat from ‘Bad Sneakers…’. Here’s to hoping we hear a lot ‘more’ from them soon./Alison