Monday, 7 February 2011
The Vaselines @ XOYO
About five minutes into their set it becomes abundantly clear that Kurt Cobain's favourite band don't just use Vaseline for chapped lips. Despite the fact they're dressed like your parent's friends (Francis – all mumsy in floaty material, Eugene – jeans, waistcoat and smart shoes) middle age has not blunted their sex drives.
Throughout the night, the audience (a mixture of the usual hipsters and some paunchy older blokes who probably used 'Slushy' to win the hearts of their first wives) are treated to the kind of salty tales that you'd usually hear from a grizzled old sailor. Threesomes, STDs, how little Eugene has grown in size thanks to “five minutes of tugging a day”. It's like one of those Glamour sex quizzes brought to life. By the time Francis tells us she wanted their latest video to feature kinky nurses giving each other mouth to mouth, we're all pretty hot under the collar. Especially as the venue is rammed and we're all jammed up and sweaty. Sacré bleu.
Flanked by members of Belle and Sebastian, the Vaselines' live sound is meatier and less lo-fi than you'd expect. At one point during 'The Devil Inside Me' feedback is deployed deliberately to make what almost sounds like stoner rock. There are even some axe-grinding guitar solos – not exactly what you'd expect from a band more known for wearing grandma jumpers than starting moshpits.
Largely though the songs are cutesy and feelgood. Every single audience member is smiling contagiously and classics like 'Molly's Lips', 'Son of A Gun' and 'Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam' spread joy like a forest fire. The most twee moment of the night comes when the band admit that they've run out of CDs and an audience member calls out to ask if there are any vinyl left. Vaselines fans kick it old school.
New songs from the wryly named 'Sex With An X' are less well received than the old favourites but are still earworms. A lot of them are so simple and childlike that they almost sound like nursery rhymes and even those unacquainted begin singing. 'My God's Bigger Than Your God' and 'I Hate The '80s' stay just the right side of pastiche and show the band's sense of humour has only grown stronger after years in the indie wilderness. The mood is almost relentlessly fun. It's probably the most fun I've ever had at a gig. And, having watched Rod Stewart perform 'Hot Legs' in front of a twenty-foot inflatable pair of fish netted pins, that's no mean feat.
With just enough songs for an encore, the group bound back on stage after just a minute's break to tear through the blush-worthy 'You Think You're A Man' and bounce-inducing 'Dum Dum'. Everyone's garages have been well and truly rocked, but there's still time for the band to leave us with a lasting image to take home. A souvenir if you will. “That moment backstage was just enough time for me and Eugene to have sex,” grins Francis. “Twice,” says Eugene. See, kids? Premature ejaculation can be fun.