LONDON rockers Japanese Voyeurs have been billed as the missing link between old school grunge and metal, but not when you just turn the amps up to 11.
All the subtly of their sound and the distinctive cutie little girl vocals of Romily Alice were just drowned out in a wall of sound.
As the first band on the bill proved, competent metal bands are ten a penny, but bands who have vocalists with an unusual style and who are willing to experiment with song structure are not.
I knew we were in trouble when the keyboard player starting headbanging halfway the first song, and it didn’t help when the roadie couldn’t find a replacement guitar strap for Romily, which threw her off her stride.
We might have been on the backend of a sonic bashing but among all the noise there is a really good band battling to get out. The songs themselves have some nice pace changes and there is a real intelligence at work here.
Once we’d got over Strapgate, Romily proved she has real presence dominating the stage with some dramatic gestures and when her vocals came through the mix it was like glimpsing gold before it was washed downriver. But if I were Romily I’d ditch the guitar to concentrate on her vocals and entertaining the crowd.
It was at the end of a far too short set that it finally all clicked into place. 'Dumb' is exactly the sort of song that will make their name and they have the balls to say fuck you to the metalheads then it could be their making as a band.
For once we heard why the critics have gone for the KatieJane Garside/Courtney love comparisons as Romily’s quirky vocals styling led us into the riff. This was the moment when the grunge buzz made sense but they need to remember that Kurt and the boys always know when to turn it down.
It's crunch time for Japanese Voyeurs – are they going to use the buried treasure that is Romily’s voice or are they going to become a Wayne’s World tribute act? I know which I prefer but it’s their call.