Live Review: The Virgins
November 9, 2009, 3:35 am
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The Virgins
The Speakeasy
Sunday 26 April 2009

Is it ever less than intoxicating as when New York comes to town? Emitting a grotty cosmopolitan glamour, Donald Summer, a gangly coquette with a complexion like scarified wax, stuporously relays tales of bedding Uptown debutants and unruly Ketamine trips in the gloom of the Speakeasy, with a slight over-reliance on rock ’n’ roll cliché and Karen O’s patented fist-on-hip. If he was once a pretty club-kid model, several tough years on the circuit and 25 preceding European dates has left him a black-toothed ne’r do well.

Of course, a Manhattan loft address and a dying liver don’t make you Lou Reed. It’s a wan artistic statement and lyrics like ‘Let’s have a cocaine brunch’ don’t exactly counter their reputation as catwalk-garnish, the televangelists of New York cool, counterfeiters. You‘ve got the Duran Duran-commemorating ‘Murder’ the Olsen-esque “Hey Hey Girl” and on conclusion of the irritatingly starchy ‘One Week Of Danger’, you’d settle for one song.

In the end, though, when it’s a good Sunday night out you‘re looking for, a nifty touch for fluid pop-craft trumps originality as the essential. Their funk-pop confectionary flourishes in a live setting, helping to vanquish the sensation of déjà vu-all-over-again that percolates their debut LP. A cover of INXS’s ‘Devil Inside’ is entirely appropriate and the Strokes-ian ‘Private Affair’ and roller-boogie strut ‘Rich Girls’ are both irresistible.

When greeted with the sweetly sincere ‘Fernando Pando’ and a gorgeous slow-dance rendition of ‘Love is Colder…’ their obvious plagiarisms rapidly shrink in importance, as they eclipse their support act Amazing Baby by merit of a fearsome yet accessible star wattage. While observing the frequent bouts of proud smiles traded between the band, it’s clear that as opposed to being imperious fashion-whores, the Virgins are a group of relatively civilian pop-lovers who can’t believe their luck and a breath of fresh air before the real thing emerges.

John Calvert

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