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Live review: Palma Violets' exhilarating live experience evokes spirit of The Libertines at Norwich Sound and Vision

PUBLISHED: 16:37 14 October 2012

Palma Violets

Palma Violets

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Palma Violets, Hog in Armour, Norwich, Friday, October 12

This week I picked up the NME for the first time in years as their cover story celebrates a decade since The Libertines released their debut album ‘Up The Bracket’.

Feeling nostalgic I was quite interested to hear the free CD of new bands reinterpreting the album, which sound-tracked my first year of university.

When I managed to get over the £2.80 price tag of the mag, I remembered seeing The Libertines at York Fibbers in 2002, with the band seemingly at a very similar stage of their career to Palma Violets now: sprung from nowhere onto the front of the NME - last week they had the coveted front spot - and with barely enough tunes for an EP.

Although not being fussed about much of Carl’s or Pete’s output since then, I still think their early mic-swapping frontmen shenanigans (bromance, I believe?) made them a charming experience live.

Tonight the Palma Violets leaders, Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson, instantly put me in mind of the duelling Libertines singers, as they slur over sweaty, pulsating guitar rhythms and provide a fascinating on-stage relationship.

Hopefully they won’t start burgling each others’ flats and do a monumental sonic nosedive like The Libertines, as their raw, young sound maintains an exciting pace from the start.

Like recent touring partners and current buzz band Savages, surprisingly their web presence is pretty non-existent.

While unusual for these times it does seem far cooler to not flog every facet of your product through the social networking empire and this adds a refreshing level of mystery to the night.

Bands who put online every song, band practice and tuning session since their formation, will struggle to provide this kind of fever, and the crowd show more appreciation for the arrival of the odd familiar track, such as show-stealing new single Best of Friends.

“Ooh, they sound a bit like The Horrors,” is a phrase you hear at gigs a lot these days and it’s true that over their last two albums The Horrors have pretty much referenced every great band of the last 35 years, not leaving much for anyone else.

But there’s a bit of that copy/paste ethos present with the Palma Violets tonight.

Yep, all the usual suspects can be heard and although “band bingo” is such a lazy way to write about music, it’s so much fun. “All the threes- Primal Scream!”, “Clickety-click – The Ramones!”, “Unlucky for some- Echo and the Bunnymen!”, “and for the full house - MY! BLOODY! VALENTINE!”.

If truth be told, I could have sworn the Palma Violets sounded like Inspiral Carpets playing Iggy Pop covers, but on reflection the cheap cider, crowd bustle and dodging the sea of broken glass across the venue floor, my judgement may have been blurred. Incidentally, Inspiral Carpets playing Iggy Pop covers is a band that I would pay to see every night of the week.

So while there isn’t too much original about this brand of guitar music, the Palma Violets are an exhilarating live experience and my verdict is a tentative “Yeah!”. Actually more of a “YEAH!”, which isn’t bad at all.

I shall certainly keep an eye and an ear out for their movements over the coming months, although I’m not yet sure I’ll be picking up the NME in 10 years time for the Palma Violets debut album re-appraisal. I probably won’t be able to afford it for a start.

Leaving just before the end to maximise my wristband usage, I later discovered the final track saw singer Sam Fryer knock himself out, bashing into the drums and leaving a gash across his head requiring assistance. Carl and Pete would be proud.

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