A truly surprising and rewarding experience

Detroit pranksters Electric Six are an interesting bunch. Having burst into the mainstream charts back in 2003 with the infectious, some may say irritating, but ultimately humorous hits ‘Gay Bar’ and ‘High Voltage’, the band vanished from the public eye. It came as a huge surprise to me that their newly released album, ‘Flashy’, is actually their fifth studio album, and their fourth since the aforementioned material that made them stars.

Upon arriving at the Bristol Academy, I really didn’t know what to expect. For starters, I thought they would be playing the smaller Academy 2 venue upstairs. Surely, six years after ‘Gay Bar’ they couldn’t fill the main venue? But I was wrong.

The Academy was, in short, heaving. Not quite at full capacity, but certainly close. The crowd was huge in variety; from rockers to punks, to middle aged women at the back, through to a new breed of kids at the front right in the mix. The atmosphere was fantastic, everyone in buoyant mood having been suitably warmed up by the Bee Gee’s tribute metal band ‘Tradgedy’ (actually spelt that way too).

When Electric Six took to the stage, mock superhero cloaks and props aplenty (you would expect nothing less), all hell broke loose. The middle-aged women were at the front. The rockers were hurling themselves every which way, while the punks piled in after. They weren’t moshpits as such, more like a mock ironic version in character with the band themselves. Even so, I was in disbelief.

But, as the set wore on and the well-known classics ‘High Voltage’, ‘Gay Bar’ and ‘Dance Commander’ were all rolled out and greeted with huge acclaim, interspersed with largely mediocre new material, it dawned on me. People were not here simply for the music, and I doubt that any of them would namedrop an Electric Six album as one of their personal favourites. They were here to be entertained. And that’s where Electric Six’s strength still lies today; they’re entertainers. Showmanship, charisma and sheer cheek are what made this band big, and every one of them, frontman Dick Valentine in particular, still possesses these attributes. All in all, a great show. I won’t be buying the new album, but I would definitely catch them live again.