Hinds – O2 Kentish Town Forum, London (2nd Dec 2016)

The biggest gig in the shortish history of Hinds ends two years of solid touring for the Madrileñas. This is the last show. We are doing some in Spain, but they don’t count as it is home.” The Forum’s standing area downstairs fills up with ardent young fans and an older group of curious music followers who’ve heard that Hinds have to be seen live — unique, charming, funny, authentic, with touchingly twisted lyrics and big hearts.

A few things are missing compared with previous London gigs — no publicly announced afterparty, no stage invasion, and the set fails to include much-loved B-side ‘Between Cans’ (aka ‘Baby’). But this is to quibble with an enormously entertaining show. To keep themselves fresh after hundreds of dates, the band have devised cute moments of choreography. Each time they synchronise steps or line up their guitars, the crowd roars its approval. Fangirls and indie boys sing along to every mangled lyric, attempt to mosh, totter and fall over as they lose control in a sea of flailing arms and legs.

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Idiosyncratically, Hinds are into covers. A taped intro of ‘You Sexy Thing’ by Hot Chocolate leads into the churning guitars of old favourite ‘Warning With the Curling’. ‘Trippy Gum’, ‘Fat Calmed Kiddos’, ‘Warts’ and ‘Walking Home’ (always referred to as ‘You Never’ by the band) race through to the night’s first live cover, ‘When It Comes To You’ by Vancouver’s Dead Ghosts. Talking about their life on the road after the last line of ‘San Diego’ (“Stay close to me or know I’ll… Die”) leads to an aborted attempt at John Lennon’s ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and the crowd’s excited response triggers a full sing-along of Paul McCartney’s ‘Hey Jude’. Airing classics by The Beatles is cheesy as hell, but the band’s ingenuous and infectious charm just about wins through. Not many groups dare go this far off script, but Hinds have their own rules.

The second half of the set includes most of debut album ‘Leave Me Alone’. Deviant unrequited love song ‘Chili Town’ (“Don’t try to reach my mind, you’re way to big inside”) is spliced with the typically off-beat lyricism and apparent simplicity of theVelvet Underground-esque ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ (“I could be your babe, but I’ll be your man, I’ll be your man”). ‘Easy’ shows off fuzzy buzzing guitars, and top tune ‘Bamboo’ is preceded by a cock-eyed story about going to a plant shop in Bristol to buy… you guessed it, bamboo. Joint lead singer/guitarist Carlotta Cosials gets cross as some of the crowd boo at the mention of Bristol and it seems as if her good nature is, for a moment, going to be taken advantage of by the London mob. Hinds regain full control as ‘Bamboo’ heads straight into the deceptive beach-party bubblegum bop of ‘San Diego’, in reality a druggy elegy. The Beatles madness interrupts the flow, but the group get back into the reverberating, ricocheting surf-rock groove with show stoppers ‘Garden’ and ‘Castigadas en el Granero’. 

Fans sing along to implausible lyrics such as “and I feel like I’m freezing again, and you won’t say you’re bored anymore, ‘cause i can take you dancing, use me to feel home” or “I would kill your dogs if I knew who your boxers belong. And all I see is a big cow (I know you heard that), and now I’m eating all your corn”. Ade Martin’s bass ends ‘Garden’ on a note that flows perfectly into the choreographed intro to ‘Granero’ (“Barn’). This lo-fi blaze of intertwining melodies on guitars, bass and vocals, with sparring from Cosials and singer/songwriter partner Ana Perrote, ends and the band head off briefly to chants of “We love Hinds” and “Otra, otra” (one more, one more).

Two more covers bookend the encore, with waltzing instrumental ‘Solar Gap’ in between. ‘Holograma’ by Los Nastys — the latest online single by Hinds — is in Spanish, rather than twisted English, and means a lot to the group. “Covering this song was the beginning of this band,” they explain. Compared with the uncertain beginnings and fragility of their first attempts at this tune two years ago, Hinds now characteristically drench the song in spicy overlaying garage guitars and Martin’s rich unaffected bass lines, while Cosials and Perrote trade vocals. 

Drummer Amber Grimbergen has an unexpected turn at the front of the stage and launches herself into the moshers for a quick crowd surf as the band are joined by Joel Amey from Wolf Alice for final song ‘Davey Crockett’ by Thee Headcoatees. The ur-punk chant of “Gabba Gabba Hey” rings around the Forum and that’s it from Hinds. “You will be able to say you saw Hinds’ first album tour, the best,” they say. Let’s hope they keep getting better.

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