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LIVE REPORT: Nervous Conditions at The Lexington
Eden Tizard , January 25th, 2018 16:17

A genuinely exciting new band play a genuinely crazed gig

photo thanks to Carolina Faruolo

It’s impossible to detach tonight’s gig from the news of Mark E Smith’s death. Before their set, Nervous Conditions can be seen walking around The Lexington in solemn disbelief, and you just need to look around at the audience to grasp the impact which the hip priest’s wholly singular work has had.

There are plenty of sub-Fall knock offs - guitar bands who adopt Smith’s sing/talk/drawl but miss out all the group’s visionary and wayward qualities. Cambridge eight-piece Nervous Conditions draw from The Fall’s spirit and never fall prey to creating a shoddy, reductive copy of their sound. Frontman Connor Browne’s convulsions and spasms are clearly his own. Musically, there is an air of late-period Beefheart and some prime no-wave - a crazed stupor of restless sax wails and some violin abuse. It’s a performance which teeters on the edge, the looming groove of ‘Village Mentality’ carrying with it a sense of dread.

They have the look of a slightly skewiff village-school brass band; like The Fall, there’s a sparring between the commonplace, the ordinary, and something altogether more uncanny and disconcerting. Aside from Browne’s lurching performance, the band are unassuming on stage and that makes the feeling of malice all the more palpable.

Out of the eight, four are jazz- and classically trained, something which becomes apparent as you listen to their open-eared and at times unhinged approach to sound. Nervous Conditions are a young group willing to ignore the bog standard set of influences and lineages so prevalent in our indie-band culture; this rejection leaves the doors wide open for more deviant ancestors. They are truly one of the country’s most exciting new propositions.