- Mon, 2011-10-31 11:28
FOE live @ The Victoria, Dalston, October 20th 2011
Hannah Clark, a.k.a. FOE, sings sweet pop melodies through a curled lip, while crunching guitars and sinister keyboards cackle along with her. She sounds like the pop princess who has just discovered that black is the new pink and that bad girls have more fun.
Tonight she arrives on the Victoria’s small stage with lipstick smeared over one cheek and her guitar in hand, accompanied by her band: a second guitarist, a drummer, and long-time collaborator Entrepreneurs on bass and keys. The first thing to note as they get their set underway is how much heavier they are than had been expected. Guitars that are tight and controlled on record become unruly and dominating live, transforming noisy pop into full-blooded rock. Keyboards enter from time to time to try and introduce a calming edge, but they never quite manage to bring the band under their spell, while Clark’s vocal melodies are as strong and as catchy as ever, but have to vie with a wall of sound to make themselves known. Songs like Deep Water Heartbreaker and Tyrant still carry as much clout as they do over the headphones, but it is only during the more spacious A Handsome Stranger Called Death that the real subtlety of FOE’s music can be glimpsed.
Much of this unexpectedly loud dynamic can be put down to the venue’s limited sound-system, and even in the absence of the sonic clarity that these songs deserve FOE are still a band with a bolshy swagger that captures your attention, led by an engaging front-woman. In a better venue they would be excellent, tonight they are merely very good.