I don’t know, these days you can’t go out in Dundee without tripping over some bunch of hopeful wee souls (bless ‘em) with an e.p. to launch but this one seems different for a number of reasons. I’ve been looking forward to this gig for ages after seeing Vladimir tear the stage up at Dexters, musically and physically, when supporting The Mirror trap a few months ago. Also, their debut e.p. is more than a little bit special.
Due to timing issues (Okay, since you didn’t ask, I was interviewing Kristin Hersh in Edinburgh) I miss the openers The Wildhouse who, as reigning Kings (and Queen) of pop chaos seem the perfect choice to play with the new dark prince’s of pop chaos. The supports I do catch aren’t really my aural cup of tea although Cha Cha Heels are bloody entertaining with a set of trashy, sleazy punk-glam originals interspersed with some choice covers (opening with a Blondie song is pretty ballsy) and I’d certainly pay to see ‘em again. We Were Poseidon are decent enough, scarily proficient well beyond their years but don’t really catch my attention. It’s difficult to judge ‘Manifesto’ as they seem to endure every indignity suffered by live bands all in the space of their first song and don’t really recover from it in terms of confidence.
Vladimir, musically at least, don’t seem to suffer from a lack of confidence being brave enough to dig their own unique furrow but the audience seem really up for them. They step up to the stage bathed in red light and roar through a set that’s an intense, exhilarating short, sharp shock. It’s pretty exhausting but leaves me wanting more.
The basic template for the sound is a kinda Jesus & Mary Chain-garage-post-punk one but it’s done in a way that sounds fresh and open to exploring the different routes that these influences point to without ever droning down a culdesac. The first three songs, ‘On My Wall’, ‘I Fight Fire’ and ‘Passing’ from the debut e.p. sound incredible. They pull off the feat of sounding brutal and beautiful simultaneously, shifting from raw, fiery riffs to moments of heart-stopping intricacy within a few beats of the heart.
Tonight there’s no reprise of their cover of The Cramps ‘The Way I Walk’, instead we get a thrilling cover of Lee & Nancy’s ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’, warped and twisted through the Vladimir grinder. Then, after a few moments of slight hesitancy when Josh’s pedals give up the ghost they finish with another song from the record, ‘Mellow’. While the verses are decidedly gentler than the rest of the set the choruses are utterly blistering with singer Ross working himself up into a frenzy before it all explodes/collapses into an elegant mass of feedback and destruction with band members ending up in the crowd and a guitar meeting its demise. You could shake your head cynically and sagely say, ‘oh yeah, seen it all before’ but somehow, it seems perfect, it all feels pretty exciting and visceral.
If you’re bored of polite, mediocre bands plugging their Facebook pages between songs, you need, to possibly misquote one Mr. Alan McGee many years ago when discussing his unruly charges from East Kilbride, the sheer first division excitement of Vladimir. Or as another bunch of young rock ‘n’ roll insurrectionists put it, ‘Kick out the Jams Motherfucker’.
Thanks to Michael Lambert for the permission to use his excellent photographs. The full set can be found here at http://vladimir.bigcartel.com” while Michael’s website can be found at www.michaellambert.co.uk