REAL ANIMAL – The House of Love Rock Indie Daze 4 At The Forum

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Events like these remind you that the term ‘indie’ represents a very broad church, with multiple sub-genres.

The good folks at Indie Daze made sure this fourth festival represented this wide spectrum; from the pop-punk of Bis to the grebo of Crazyhead, with ’90s Britpop and baggy on offer from Thousand Yard Stare.

There was indie-acoustic from The Wonderstuff‘s Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls, thrash-rock and samples, courtesy of Apollo 440 and even alternative prog in the shape of Salad.

And, while I enjoyed The B52’s-style bubblegum of Voice of the Beehive – back with their original line-up for the first time in a quarter century – there was only one band on the bill I had really come to see, headliners The House of Love.

Sadly it’s the nature of festivals – and the UK’s  transport network – that some of those facing long journeys were on their way home before Guy Chadwick‘s men took the stage at getting on for 10.30pm.

The many that remained, however, were not to be disappointed.

Back at the Kentish Town Forum, the venue where they made such an impact at Creation Records‘ Doing It For the Kids showcase in 1988, HoL rolled back the years with a set chock-full of pristine crowd-pleasers.

Looking hardly a day older than in their ’80s heyday, guitarist Terry Bickers is electrifying to watch.

From the very first moments, he’s all over the stage, leaping high in the air like Pete Townshend, or crouching low to tinker with his effects pedals.

Chadwick, by contrast remains mostly static, shades on, leaning conspiratorially into the microphone.

His voice seems to have lowered in register over the years, gaining a darker, more sinister intonation, adding an extra layer to the songs.

Perhaps due to time constraints imposed by the Forum’s strict curfew, the pair say little between songs, preferring to let the music do the talking.

I Don’t Know Why I Love You is the first track to get the crowd going, quickly followed by the nostalgic skiffle of The Beatles And The Stones.

Then they pull out the big guns and the fireworks really start.

It takes a fraction of a second for the audience to recognise the opening chords of Christine, before the whole place erupts.

Confident and assured, they sound more like The Velvet Underground than I’d remembered – never a bad thing – Chadwick’s rapid chopping chords underpinning Bickers’ flaring, vaulting arpeggios as they rip through the set.

Destroy The Heart thunders past in a blaze of wah wah, before, all too soon, Bickers warns us sadly that “we are approaching the end”.

There’s still time for a dazzling version of their debut single Shine On, after which the band troop off briefly, before a beefed-up encore of the tremulous Love In A Car brings their first London headline show in 25 years to an ear-splitting climax.

“It’s been very heart-warming,” Bickers remarks. He’s not wrong.

The House of Love used to be a great band. I’m happy to report they still are.

All pictures by Don Blandford not to be reproduced without permission

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Full time journalist, music lover (obvs) and truly terrible guitarist. You can find Matt on twitter @matcatch

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