Felt: Liquid Slides, by C.S.

BRUSSELS - A few hundred night owls gathered in the Ancienne Belgique for the Belgian debut of two Creation bands. A motivated audience, because it was ready to applaud and to ask for encores, even if from an objective point of view there was no reason to. Supporting act was Biff Bang Pow, the hobby band of Alan McGee, boss of Creation records and in that position discoverer of, among others, The Jesus & Mary Chain. Because of that he will be forgiven much and that was necessary: the thoroughly distuned guitars, the consequent flat singing, the persistent lack of songs with head and tail, and the ignoring of the elementary rules of harmony seemed compulsory subject matter for his band and I really don't see why someone should pay to hear for something like this. It's no fun hearing for an estimated hundred thousandth time Pink Floyd's "Lucifer Sam" being dragged through the neo-psychedelic mire, being subjected to liquid slides (I swear!) and being treated as a willing receptacle for amateurish fumbling with feedback.

But we had come for the (on record) magic Felt, band of the totally unsociable aesthete Lawrence, from whom Lloyd Cole stole sound and style to become a well-known singer, while the inventor stays wrestling in obscurity. Now Lawrence seems to feel at his best in that obscurity: he nearly apologizes for his presence on stage and mumbled through his autumnal repertory of life-sick ballads with the passion and the enthusiasm of a tin of beans. He once described his music as obscure easy listening and that was somewhat right. The trembling guitars, the nostalgicly rattling organ, the references to Dylan, Verlaine, Lou Reed, the pose of unwordly sorrow (portrait of the artist as a young (under)dog), the sad tenor of the lyrics (Die Leiden des jungen Lawrence), the outright static nature of the gig: it was a cold shower. The domestic charm of the record work got irretrievably lost in these crestfallen live versions, the more since the overall sound of the band sticked together like a sieve. Even so "A Wave Crashed On Rocks" sounded reasonably good, just as "Primitive Painters", "All The People I Like Are Those That Are Dead", "Penelope Tree" and "Rain Of Crystal Spires". The instrumentals (among with some obscure song of Michel Polnaref) referred too strikingly to Booker T & the MGs. Felt continues to be an intriguing band and I will continue with much pleasure to listen to and look for their records, but live they were disappointing.