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

Pretty Boy Floyd, The Renegade Playboys and The Plastix @ The Underworld, Camden, London, UK 15/02/04

Pretty much a de rigor opening act at any TB Records endorsed gig now Nottingham’s The Plastix consistently provide a lively wake-up call to kick off an evening. Dealing in a messy Glam-punk stomp, that references a more punky KISS, and singing about the simple teenage politics of it not being fair and playing music loud because we want to, they’re a familiar and not too challenging start to the night, who seem to get people in the mood for further goodtime rock’n’roll to follow. What’s not so consistent is the bands ever changing image, from painted KISS style aliens a couple years back, through classic slap-n-platforms Glam to today’s Manga-themed superhero look, which involves frontman Stu gluing plastic spikes to his head.

The Renegade Playboys are a similarly constantly evolving conundrum, going through numerous line-up changes since Bubblegum Slut last saw them maybe 3 years back they now contain only one original member, but finally seem to have found a formula that works, sounding tighter and more together than ever before. Trailing a uniform of long hair, bandannas and fishnet they look as much a Motley Crue style gang as a band. Musically the look to less heavy icons of their adolescence, reminding a bit of Bon Jovi, and when the keyboards come out for a sensitive ballad, the tail end of cock-rock when AOR started to seep in. Frontman Yorkie is a contagious whirlwind of energy centerstage, falsetto yelling through the likes of ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Rain Song’, while stage left razor cheek-boned guitar virtuoso and newest addition Sebz is sure to have the girls swooning and the boys rushing to their bedrooms to practice those solos in the hope of having the same effect.

Its with some apprehension I await Pretty Boy Floyd’s arrival onstage. Last time they graced the Underworld they were a coked-up mess, so desperate for action bassist Leslie scrawled ‘Fuck Me’ on his chest, which is of course exactly the kind of state I want my debauched rock’n’roll bands to be in. I just want them to be able to remember how to play their own songs, too. So infamously appalling was that last performance Steve even tried to excuse it tonight, “We were up all the night before, doing coke and screwing girls” he shrugs. Tonight the bands abilities are vastly improved, although certainly not thanks to plenty of rehearsals and early nights, a highlight is when they pull two teenage girls, present the PBF party the night before on stage and proudly announce “Who would have thought Pretty Boy Floyd would still be getting 16 year old girls in 2004?”, before kissing them both and sending them off backstage. Oh no, this is not the bloated, sober and hindsight ridden world of Aerosmith or Motley Crue, PBF are just as dumb and decadent as when they started out in 1980. Consequently they still play weekend anthems ‘48 Hours To Rock’ and ‘Rock’n’Roll (Is Gonna Set The Night On Fire)’ from debut ‘Leather Boys With Electric Toyz’ with some degree of conviction, and think making sexist jibes about dead Grunge stars is hilarious.The hits are padded out with a couple songs lifted from ‘Pornstars’, a pair of new tracks and cover of ‘Toast Of The Town’, although Leslie is still heard to complain “Oh man, tonight’s going so fast, I certainly know *my* heart is racing”. As the end draws nigh Steve decides ‘all the pretty girls’ should get onstage for the final number, before they quit the stage only to return a minute later for an encore of KISS’s ‘Rock’n’Roll All Night’ which pretty anthemically sums up the ethos of the whole genre. Pretty Boy Floyd are the last dumb outpost of cock-rock, not even making an attempt at ‘cool’ they still act like they’re 14 and think they’re the first people to discover narcotics, write naughty words on themselves (yeah, again), make your wife/mum/dog jokes and go no deeper that the bottom of the bottle of JD self-consciously placed on the stage. As they say themselves, who would’ve thought they’d still be screwing our maidens and taking our money in 2004?