The Shacklewell Arms
With Charles Rowell assuring us, “don’t worry, we won’t play many more”, and forever, sarcastically pointing out that tonight is a free-entry show, after all, you’d think that Psychic Dancehall’s first (and possibly last, on their own insistence) show is a complete bust. It isn’t.
The room is full and people cheer after each bleached-out bit of sleaze, compiled of one keyboard, one drum machine, one woozy guitar and a bunch of samples from old records. Rowell’s misjudgement is possibly due to the fact that we’re all looking through him and musical/life partner Hollie Cook, and at the band’s looped projections of girls of the ’60s. They sum up the band’s music pretty perfectly, first encompassing the photogenic glamour and nostalgic beauty of a golden age, then its carefree kitsch-ness as the girls roll around fields topless, then its mucky, inevitable conclusion as flashes of neon strip club signs accompany the band’s brashest song, the reggae bumping ‘Long Lost Lover’.
Rowell does most of the singing, in a mock cabaret/pissed Leonard Cohen drool, while Cook’s oohs and ahhs are best on ‘Sylvia of The Flower’ – the band’s most sedated (and they’re all pretty stoned) and best song. They leave to a dub-heavy ‘Hit The Road Jack’, even if plenty of us were quite happy watching vintage erotica to a retro wall of sound band as convincing as any other.
By Austin Laike
Originally published in issue 34 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. January 2012