LIVE REPORT: The Scaramanga Six

The Leeds rockers become even more of a favourite for Sean Kitching at their recent set at London's Buffalo Bar

The Scaramanga Six don’t play in London all that often – a fact which vocalist and bass player Steve Morricone attributes to their van not meeting the Euro 3 emissions standard and hence triggering "Boris Johnson’s congestion charge". "This time we all travelled separately, in our own cars," he adds. It’s good news for me and the smattering of other SC6 fans who have come out to the Buffalo Bar’s mid-week version of their Guided Missile night. This is only the second time I’ve caught them live but The Scaramanga Six are already turning into my favourite British rock band. The five (playing tonight without keyboard player ‘Gentleman‘ James Kenosha) totally look the part. Steve and non-identical twin brother Paul Morricone radiate an aura of stylised belligerence entirely in tune with the natural theatricality of their songs. Julia Arnez concentrates intently on the strings of her guitar, fluorescent pink hair lighting up the front of the stage. Behind them, long-term drummer Gareth Champion and Stephen ‘Stuffy’ Gilchrist share space with their twin drum kit set-up. Together they bring the kind of sound and attitude one might hope for from a band gracing a stadium stage, all crammed in and concentrated within the four walls of the tiny Buffalo bar. It should come as no surprise that SC6 know what they’re doing – they’ve been perfecting the process for the last 17 years.

Tonight’s set draws heavily upon their recent, Steve Albini-produced, Phantom Head album, with fierce opener ‘Blunt Force Trauma,’ the Pixies-esque ‘I Will Crush Your Heart’ and the drawn-out sonic architecture of ‘We Are The Blind’ standing out as particular highlights. As great as those new songs are, they are still upstaged by older numbers such as ‘Sunken Eyes’ (from the Tim Smith-produced album The Dance Of Death) and the wonderfully creepy, yet soaring and anthemic ‘Walking Through Houses’. ‘You Should Have Killed Me When You Had The Chance’ feels like it’s stripping paint from the walls with its abrasive guitars, snappy syncopation and swelling chorus of voices trailing off into screams at the track’s end. ‘It’s Just A Matter of Time’, also taken from the new album, builds towards an epic end of the set, like a slow climb up a mountain to peer off a terrifying peak. Then there’s just time for one more track by way of an encore, the fantastic ‘Baggage’ from 2011’s Cursed, which for me encapsulates everything that’s great about this band – crunchy guitars, a totally addictive chorus and a woozy melodic richness of sound that recalls my old favourite, Cardiacs, in their most direct and luscious moments.

The Scaramanga Six play Brixton’s The Windmill on August 23 and a benefit for Tim Smith of Cardiacs at Salisbury Arts Centre on the 24th

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