Vladimir / Cha Cha Heels / King Louie / Blindfolds / Whigs and Rakes – Doghouse, Dundee – 29th December 2011

So last night, finally, I got to see Vladimir play live. After their excellent debut EP earlier in the year, I’ve passed on several chances to see them for different reasons. But that was put to rights last night as they played at the top of a five band bill at the Doghouse.

Let’s do the bill first. Opening the show were Perth 3 piece Whigs and Rakes who certainly made more of a racket than their fresh faced appearances might have suggested. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are perhaps a reasonable comparison but over their half a dozen songs W&R showed up well. So well in fact that the LP was swiftly purchased.

Next up were Blindfolds, an intense four piece rock band with attitude to spare not least a leather jacketed singer malevolently pacing the stage and a guitarist making all the right rock moves. The first half of the set was essentially evil glam with the rhythm section and guitar often pounding away in unison whilst the second half was a heavier, evil blues. Intense.

Although they also claimed at one point to be evil and also owed a lot to the blues, King Louie were much more like fun by comparison particularly with a quirky final number. Mainly guitar, bass and drums (although the bassist only joined the other two after the first song), they were very much in a White Stripes vein.

Having been preceded by three rock bands (with a fourth to follow them) I wasn’t at all prepared for Cha Cha Heels to be an out and out pop band opening and closing with covers (‘Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ and the B-52s ‘Love Shack’ respectively).

They certainly put on a show (see pic) and had one audience member in particular bopping around before prostrating himself at the front of the stage – shirtless. A highly enjoyable set which, by being something completely different, probably heightened the impact of the headliners.

If Blindfolds were intense then Vladimir were REALLY Fucking Intense. The nearest comparison I can think of is early Twilight Sad but how these four guys produce such an all encompassing noise is bewildering. In fact you’re almost tempted to think there’s 2 additional guitarists still playing in the dressing-room.

At the centre of it all singer Ross looks entirely relaxed at the centre of an extraordinary maelstrom, pacing the stage slowly but taking everything in around him. Drummer Sam is the only other member to be lit on stage as he batters away on his kit but a lot of the credit for the wall of noise has to go to largely unseen wingmen Peter and Joshua on guitar and bass respectively.

If the main part of the set was intense then the closing ‘Mellow’ took things to a new level of brutality amidst a flurry of strobe lights. As far as I could make out all members of Blindfolds and a couple of audience members ended up on stage whilst Ross took to the crowd, followed before the end of the song by the two drummers.

Last night demonstrated that the best way to experience Vladimir’s punishing noise attack is undoubtedly at a live show and it was great to finally find that out in person.

Headlining the Doghouse also seemed a decent way to cap a year that has seen them  come from nowhere to being a band that’s creating quite a stir. 2012, it seems, is set up perfectly for them.

Photos here.