Little Joy, Dingwalls, 21st Jan

Little Joy at Dingwalls, pic by Rachel Lipsitz

On paper it must’ve sounded like a great idea: gazillionaire globe straddling rock God teams up with cherubic Portuguese Che Guevara lookalike on the basis that they both kinda like the “same stuff”: a latino vibe straight outta Noo Yawk by way of Brazil.

The following review appears in the latest edition of London’s premier music ‘zine, London Tour Dates.

Crouched over his guitar with a chic cream jacket and a £200 haircut it’s easy to see who fills the starring role in this partnership. If we hadn’t already recognised Fabrizio Moretti then a steady stream of “I love you f****n guys. Are you having as much fun as us” confirmed that one very vocal fifth of The Strokes was present.

Having forced the Dingwalls audience to endure a toe-curlingly embarrassing tune-up session and a false appearance, Little Joy finally took stage with some panache: a very alone Rodrigo Amarante strolled up, picked up his guitar and proceeded to charm this listener with an arresting Portuguese-language opener. Didn’t get the song title I’m afraid but it was to be the high point of the night. The growing audience volume and mushy sound was perhaps an indication that not all were here to respect Little Joy’s sensitive brand of lilting rock and after struggling to make out the next 11 tunes I can see why some venues now clamp down on chattering.

On stage all was love and harmony but I couldn’t help but wonder if the smiley happy back slapping was all a bit forced. Amarante’s serious muso ethos seemed at odds next to a gurning drummer yelling “let’s party!” every few minutes. I want to be proved wrong, but if the partnership survives another year then I’ll eat my hat.

And what of Binki Shapiro? The tousled elfin-faced beauty forms the female third of Little Joy’s frontage and may well have a wonderful voice, it’s just a shame it couldn’t cut through the wet sock of a sound system and the indifferent crowd. Perhaps if I’d picked up one of the CDs lovingly spread around a back table I’d know what I was missing, but live — and struggling to shake off a cold — lil’ Binki’s two shots at the mike were just yet another cue for more yakking.

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