Whether you’re familiar with The Auteurs or his vast body of solo material, Luke Haines is certainly a challenge to categorise. The 90s enfant terrible/arsehole (according to his two autobiographies, ‘Bad Vibes’ and ‘Post Everything’); an accidental pop star with Black Box Recorder; a more laid back broadcaster on his current Tuesday slot on Boogaloo Radio, spinning ‘righteous’ tunes.
One thing’s for sure, though; he commits fully to his own peculiar vision. With tonight being a rare live performance, promising ‘After Murder Park’ and ‘Baader Meinhof’ in full, it’s pleasing to find The 100 Club full. In black, velvet jacket, fedora and violet shirt, he takes to the stage with a rhythm section apparently poached from Gaz Coombes. And it needs to be a fine rhythm section when undertaking the grooves of ‘Baader Meinhof’. As a trio, shorn of the tablas, the album as a live spectacle is sleazier, Haines clearly relishing a return to electric guitar. “The feedback I don’t mind, but I’ve gotta be slightly in tune”. For what is, essentially, a cult album to a fictional film, there are a lot of people here who know all the words. ‘Meet Me At The Airport’ and ‘There’s Gonna Be An Accident’ are stand-out songs tonight.
And so, to The Auteurs’ darkest moment. For me, ‘After Murder Park’ is the album that ‘Dog, Man, Star’ threatened to be; bleak, haunting and beautiful. I love them both, but when heard live, these songs have the edge. The only major change being when Haines forgets the running order, so ‘Married To A Lazy Lover’ is a song late. But, what a song. The three-piece brings out the garage rock elements of some songs; obviously, minus the cello, it’s going to sound different. And it highlights what a strong set of songs these are.
Haines is in a jovial mood, recounting how Steve Albini disliked ‘Land Lovers’; “it sounds like The Police!”. He introduces ‘Unsolved Child Murder’ as akin to if Bowie were playing ‘Low’, and was announcing the “hit single”. As Haines has said before, to make music expecting success would be to miss the point. He is rightly proud of these songs.
Obligatory encore time brings ‘Lou Reed, Lou Reed’ and ‘Cerne Abbas Man’ from ‘New York In The 70s’, before a clattering run through ‘Lenny Valentino’. Given that it’s about five years since Haines’ last electric gig, he may not be in a rush to return, but I hope it’s reminded him of how good it can feel. Righteous indeed.
Author: Martin Chamarette