Spinnerette at Islington Academy

Former Distillers front woman Brody Dalle has been dubbed the queen of punk rock and has every credential both in life and performance to claim this crown. Angsty, drug-addicted past. Check. Teenage marriage to fellow rock god. Check. Throaty lilting voice that can turn as sweet as a prom queen. Check. But her appearance at the Islington Academy on Monday night with new band Spinnerette, as part of the NME Shockwave festival, begs the question, ‘does she still rock?’

It’s been two years since The Distillers split up, and the atmosphere at the first UK gig of a band who released their four track EP Ghetto Love in December 2008 was filled with love. Imagine, if you will, a room full of punks on MDMA greeting a performer who, although desperately cool, is also eager to please. ‘I’m sick to my stomach. I’m so nervous to play for you guys,’ said Brody at one point in her deadpan Australia via LA accent.

The sound, touted as softer and poppier than early Distillers’ fayre, still had the live feel of pure, no nonsense, punk rock. The five piece set up, comprising two guitars, one bass, one drummer and one singer, was as unpretentious and fulfilling as a great big saveloy perceived by a drunken carnivore. The reliable drumbeat banished all words in the head clarifying the reason why punk is the ultimate outlet for the dissatisfied.

What elevated these effective but standard sounds was the doll-in-black-slap: Melbourne-born, real deal of a performer, Ms Dalle. Live, it is hard to separate the magnetic visual presence with the voice which is reminiscent of Courtney Love – if the Hole singer was to demonstrate more enthusiasm for melodies and less for raw screaming.

Having listened to Spinnerette online, the physical absence of Brody lessons their bite and they become tolerable rather than entertaining, though no doubt her legions of fans will be sufficiently moved by her return to suck up whatever they can.

Live music is like theatre and Spinnerette put on a damn good show. The crowd interaction is just enough, from the lead guitarist holding up his beer can and uttering ‘cheers’, to Brody casually, flippantly, flicking her plectrum into the adoring crowd. These acknowledgments are the icing on the cake which is made mainly of the sincere beating of an instrument. Go and see Spinerette live for what they lack in original sound they make up with sheer charisma.

Spinnerette played at the Islington Academy on Monday 23 February. They will be returning to London in May

N1 Centre
16 Parkfield Street
N1 0PS

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