A mere thirty or so punters have ventured out to watch Johnny Foreigner rip the rafters from Henry's Cellar Bar tonight. This paltry attendance equates to less than the number of folk normally required to hold a professional football match (substitutes and referee's assistants included, of course) witnessing a band unanimously tipped for glory across the strata of 2008 hit-lists; a band who's debut mini-album, Arcs Across The City, received a flawless rating here at my day/night job; a band who are - quite simply - the sonic equivalent of a vicious, stomach-churning boot to the scrotum. Whatever happened to the fabled hospitality and on-the-pulse trendsetting of Scottish gig-goers?
But let’s not dwell on absent friends, the here and now is all about future glories and kicking off proceedings with a fidgeting assault of strung-out slacker rock is local dirge-driven beat-mongers Jesus H. Foxx. This spectacularly monikered quintet reels together a blizzard of duelling percussion, prickly guitar skewers and nocturnally lit basslines that amalgamates The Modern Lovers apathetic composure with the rhythmic deviancy of Pavement. Their straight-laced demeanour is reflected in crisp, abrasive tracks like ‘This Is Not A Rental Car’ and ‘Tightt Ideas’ that incite a shudder of synchronised Converse tapping amongst the sparse but mesmerised crowd; yet it’s ‘I Got The Sad’s Real Bad’’s subtle nuances that encompasses hearts as a sumptuous waft of pristine harmonies and soul-incrusted bass percolates sweetly through the venue’s claustrophobic confines. Top-loaded with finger-clicking ear-pleasers, the set eventually tails into meandering, bromidic space-fillers, but once such blemishes are adequately polished the coming months may just see Jesus H. Foxx venturing out into brighter pastures.
Less arctic of disposition, Falkirk based quartet Y’all Is Fantasy Island [YIFI] take to the stage with a glutton of Americana-tinged popsicles and decibel-accruing psycho-blues. Interchanging between an affected Stateside twang and brutish local brogue, frontman Adam Stafford cuts a rankled but captivating figure as his neck-straining attestations ascend through a cacophonous froth of feverous guitars and bolshy bass-slaps. Not quite at their ravenous best, much of this six-song showing finds YIFI’s melodic, country-tinged melancholy struggling to capture the heady-heights that’ve induced a giddy shower of praise upon the group for much of the last twelve months but during the climatic throes of closing opus ‘God Bless and God Damn’ the jaws of defeat are dramatically gouged wide open. Injecting a symbol-clashing splurge of deep-filled bass and Dylan-esque uttering into the airwaves, it’s a stupefying, soul-juddering triumph that wipes away the doubts emanating from the preceding half hour’s accomplished but ultimately stolid display.
In such meagerly populated domains it’s difficult to gauge the excitement surrounding Johnny Foreigner’s inaugural assault on Auld Reekie, but once the first blistering waft of frantic nitrogen-pop hurtles in to the atmosphere like a seething, discordant tornado it doesn’t really matter because, frankly, this trio of rocket-fuel slurping scamps are astonishing tonight. A hyperactive clatter of adrenaline pumping elasticity that could energise a bong-inhaling sloth, the Birmingham-based outfit whittle together surging, epileptic punk thrashes with a delicate sense of melody that simultaneously pulverises the senses and softens the heart in one breathless swoop.
Vanguards of the frontline, Alexi and Kelly instantly transfix the eyes as the thunderous ‘Champagne Girls I Have Known’ and ‘The One End And Everything After’ oscillate throughout the venue like an untamed, half-starved beast scavenging for a modicum of nourishment. Yet, despite the duo’s enticing chalk and cheese mannerisms – Alexi is a boundless bubble of energy while Kelly epitomises dead-pan serenity – it’s the frenzied whirlwind erupting from the arms of drummer Junior that makes the most seductive viewing. He is, unquestionably, unfathomably, a machine; relentlessly pummelling his skins to within an inch of combustion during the spitfire machine-gunnery of new single ‘Our Bi-Polar Friends’ and the equally jittersome, and utterly infectious, ‘Sofacore’.
Unable to decrease the pace to anything resembling mid-tempo, the mind-frazzling upstarts round up a scintillating set with the micro-cosmic explosion of 'Yr All Just Jealous'. Oozing with starry-eyed aspirations and furious, gilt-edge riffs, it’s a jaw gaping affirmation of potential super-stardom to the thirty-odd astounded converts who float from Henry’s tonight. As for the pitiful, snivelling no-shows, well I guess they’ll just have make do with the joy of sold out arena tours and restricted viewing that’s bound to follow over the course of the next twelve months.
Johnny Foreigner - 9/10
Y'all Is Fantasy Island - 6/10
Jesus H. Foxx - 7/10