9th March | Thekla
Photos: Rowan Allen
Any work of Saul Adamczewski’s is always going to held in comparison to the group that the songwriter laid the country to waste with. Had Fat White Family not made it out of the dingy Brixton pub they called home and shared their sense of vitriol and self-contempt over the last half a decade, we perhaps wouldn’t have the understated treat of the self-titled Insecure Men record we have now.
Yet what each member of Fat White Family is finally starting to get their due credit for – in particular Saul With Insecure Men and Lias Saoudi with The Moonlandingz – is their subtle substance over style. They have a penchant for songwriting that is being unveiled from beneath the grime and grit of Fat White’s narcissistic acidity. Tonight, within the cold iron cladding of Thekla, Saul, Ben Romans-Hopcraft and six other friends occupy the stage for a set that goes some way towards exploring this new found sense of euphony, but ensuring that the feeling of menacing disquiet integrally remains.
While the group sound excellent as an eight-piece, sound issues across the stage leave the feeling that perhaps little elements are missing from tonight’s show. Despite gesticulations from much of the band through the set, not much is done to ensure the lap steel guitarist can hear anything through his monitors. It sadly diminishes part of the sound and seems to influence some of the group’s motivation.
Despite this, they still thrive off a rich, fuller live sound, a throaty, warbling hum simmering from the saxophone and various synths that are on the stage. ‘Mekong Glitter,’ a song written in anger at the negligent way the crimes of Gary Glitter are ignored, rings with the right amount of bolstered grimace and twinkling synths. It’s calm, yet bitter with distaste.
Throughout the set, Saul is cheeky and loose in his delivery, flashing a gleaming smile at the band around him between songs, losing none of that sardonic edge in his whistling croon. It’s particularly impactful when they delve into songs that allude to personalities past and present. Whether opener, ‘Cliff Has Left The Building’ or ‘Whitney Houston and I’ that bookends the set, Saul’s lyricism resonates with contemptuous and deadpan wit.
Yet what’s perhaps lost when the group perform within this large scale is the feeling of tenderness that weaves its way through the timeless pop of the record. When just Saul and Ben performed a couple weeks previously at Rough Trade, the scaled-back performance revealed a quite surprising sentimentality in tracks like ‘Teenage Toy’ and ‘The Saddest Man In Penge’, yet here the weight of the instrumentation muddies such emotions.
It ends shortly before 10pm. They admit the set is short due to these being the only songs the group have, yet a slightly rushed feeling does permeate the set. There’s also the non-consoling matter of an early curfew for a following club night. Nevertheless, Insecure Men remain a sleazy joy to behold live. ‘I Don’t Wanna Dance (With My Baby)’ has the crowd in full swing and confirms the notion that Insecure Men should be a highlight of the festivals come the summertime.