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Chris Imlach reports
Cabaret Voltaire played host to the Brighton four-piece Doll & The Kicks in a near empty main room which will surely be a huge contrast from the crowds they will play to supporting Morrissey (who we all wish a very swift recovery) on tour and thereafter. For it will not be long before people pay attention to their punchy brand of indie-rock fused with hints of pop, metal and punk.
But even for a crowd of no more than 30 people The Kicks, and especially Doll herself, put on a full throttle performance that oozes confidence. And with the songs they have under their belt the band has every reason to be confident. From the aggressive denouncing of an ex in You Turn Up to the heartbroken Cry In The Kitchen, which is powered by a simple but effective Strokes-esque bass line to He’s A Believer which calls to mind a rawer, harder Florence & The Machine the tracks all capture the attention. This is due in no small part to Doll’s fantastic stage presence, exuding an energy and sexuality to rival anyone performing today she struts, shakes and shimmies her little frame and pixie-esque features expressing as much as her excellent voice which lies somewhere between Jemima from Be Your Own Pet and Paramore’s Hayley Williams but with a power and identity all of its own.
Whilst there is not a single bad song in the set three songs deserve special mention. Encore track Pictures describes the unfortunate situation of having explicit photos of yourself posted on the internet somehow manages to be both vulnerable and empowered - “You’re going to break me down and then you’ll see the city burn”. Roll Up The Red Carpet has a bounce in its step which recalls elements of reggae-inspired Clash before turning into a chorus of driving drums, high-pitched vocals and jagged guitar. But the crowning moment of the gig is undoubtedly If You Care, an excellent track on record it becomes even more spectacular live, a real hair-standing-on-end moment as Doll recounts the experience of being jilted and frustrated by a former lover, feeling every single syllable - “I’m not a keepsake, why can’t we make a clean break? Instead you say we need space, what’s that?”
Ultimately, if there is any justice in the world, this will be the last time Doll & The Kicks play to a largely empty venue and their support slot on the Morrissey tour, when it gets rearranged, will be a platform to well-deserved wider recognition.