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Live Review: William Control
WILLIAM CONTROL, Fearless Vampire Hunters, Obscure Pleasures, Spit Like This
Islington O2 Academy
Having no gothic pedigree to speak of William Control is a brave man. After fronting spooky punk-type band Aiden for six albums he created a side project and alter ego as a platform for his gothic leanings and takes his influences seriously, sometimes to the point of being derivative. At this intimate gig in Islington’s O2 Academy Control is showcasing not only his new material but his new direction, away from Aiden and floppy, black fringes and towards cravats and Depeche Mode.
Spit Like This are the first support, after which Obscure Pleasures take to the stage. With a sound reminiscent of more trad goth styles with a touch of new wave the three piece from West Bromwich are promising. It’s a shame that the sound is less than perfect and at times even slightly off key. The appearance of a gothic stripper for the last two songs is a needless distraction from what is a mature set from a relatively young band.
Fearless Vampire Hunters look like a steampunk band – waistcoats, goggles, lots of ‘dust’ (talcum powder). They have two vocalists, each taking half the set. The first, who is a little like Joe Black in his mannerisms, is hard to hear on occasion as he screams out the vocals. The second frontman sounds like a more angry My Chemical Romance, as do the band as a whole, complete with fringe. As they cover the Wham’s pop classic ‘Club Tropicana’ half the audience applaud while the other half look bemused – while the band are tight and energetic their appearance and sound are slightly incongruous.
William Control, on the other hand, has cultivated his look to match his desired sound perfectly. High collar, white silk cravat, swept back black hair and black smudgy eyes all suggest E. A. Poe. His backing band, however, seem to not quite fit the image. While he parades electro goth song after electro goth song one of the guitarists continuously spits water over the audience in a kind of unnecessary punk gesture which quickly becomes tedious. Each song is perfectly executed however and while the previous bands seemed to have issues Control’s vocals are perfect every time. Even when jumping into the audience. Each track has the catchy hooks of dark 80s synth pop and the chant-a-long lines young audiences love. An older audience however is able to hear each gothic reference and as such might not be enamoured quite so easily.
It is difficult to tell, given his previous band’s style , just how serious William Control is about this new direction. Audiences may be divided over genuine desire to do something different using genuine influences and being a pastiche of classic schwarze bands.