Clean Cut Kid - The Pick Me Up You Need
It’s a dreary morning waking up to more news about terror, bombs and innocent unnecessary deaths. To the point where you’d rather not know, and here I’ve travelled 200 miles to London - the biggest city in the UK, walking down the shopping mecca of Oxford Street, you can’t help but look everywhere and at everyone.
Bags dutifully checked twice - I’m waiting in the 100 Club for tonight’s support act – ‘Vitamin’, I know nothing about them but badly looking for a shot of something to pick me up.
Checking their set-list, first song is called ‘Giving it Up’, it doesn’t bode well!, however, arriving on time they announce they are from Leeds - that’s 30 minutes down the road from me! - and they proceed to play some perfect pop tunes, swoony lead singer in denim with an Elvis styled quiff, jangly guitars and it’s all very pleasant. It’s very clean polished pop, could have been from the mid 80’s, catchy chorus’s and danceable beats. A very young band probably all just a year out of their teens, and no doubt destined to be poster pin-ups of many very soon.
Clean Cut Kid however, look like a complete mish-mash of styles, if you were to guess from their appearance what their musical genre would be, you would get it wrong. From the metal looking pogotastic bass thumping and hair tossing, to a drummer who looks like a trucker from Arkansas with the biggest smile on the planet, and the husband and wife duo of Mike and Evelyn Halls, her with the tight jeans and him with a beard of ZZ Top proportions and a backward baseball cap - it’s juxtaposed, contrasted everywhere you look, and yet together somehow they make some of the smiliest music this side of the B52s.
Their passion and heartfelt honesty comes across in waves of blended harmony and sunshine. Bursting from every pore the smiles are contagious and the sold out crowd witness the pick me up everyone needs right now. Opening with ‘Runaway’ they bounce around to a very short set-list of all the key songs from their repertoire. With only a couple of EPs released, an album is surely on the way and should be a massive hit in the UK and possibly across the pond too as they have just come back from a successful trip at SXSW festival.
Mike Halls makes a joke in his very scouse accent that they (USA) didn’t know what a Nan was, he dedicates the song ‘Jean’ which is about his Nan and plays a subtly beautiful acoustic version which leaves that fuzzy warm feeling inside.
They even top the whole ‘Pick Me Up’ scenario with a song called exactly that, and it’s a driving fast guitar and chorus track that even gets a Made in Chelsea celebrity moving (I don’t know his name!).
Top Liverpudlian banter in-between the tracks courtesy of Mr Halls and some great understated guitar playing on tracks like ‘Make Believe’ and ‘Stay’. Songs new and some very new, one they decided just for the hell of it to play at their biggest London show to date, without rehearsal. They have a confidence that isn’t misplaced as they could definitely be the shot in the arm that the music industry really needs right now. A wake up call to the masses to listen up, sing, smile and dance.
Concluding with their biggest number to date ‘Vitamin C’, with the perfect lyric of “I’m gonna be your Vitamin C, build you back up the way you used to be”, how apt! The crowd scream for more, and I must admit I wanted at least another half an hour of their Vitamin C to get me through to the next time they are in town. If you get the chance to see them live, then go do it!