The Comsat Angels, C.S. Angels, The Headhunters, Dream Command...  All this & more

The Comsat Angels  

Sundown, London 18/4/81

Photographers have known about this trick for a while. When you really want something to stand out against an everyday grey background, wrap it in a black border, and that's close to the graphic stance the Comsat Angels have taken. 

Preceded by a droning quantity surveyors outing called MiniPops, and a disappointingly ordinary set from the Del Montes, they stood in the centre of a shadowy stage with a dark wire thrown around the music and pulled taut.  

Crisp and drilling from start to finish, they limbered up the audience via a hard as nails organ blast through the PA.  

Natty on stage chatter they're not - ''you don't want to hear me talk, do you? quizzed Stephen Fellows - but the songs are akin to being pelted by ice cubes, each one stinging the skull and raising a mental bump.  

Real Story was early into the set lifting off from uttered background vocals and a roar of noise dead centre. Stephen Fellows sounds miserable, so they say. Whilst hes not exactly throwing posies to the crowds, the low held and angry vocals are ideal spokes to hold the arrangements out on a tight rim.  

Mik Glaisher's drumming is a fascination. Every piece of percussion has its own place, rarely are two drums played together, they each have a specific slot in a rhythm.  

And that accounts for the uncluttered but unrepetitive drive of the Comsat songs. Where other bands would pound incessantly, the Comsat keep the pace but not the monotony.  

It was also a night for new writings from the forthcoming album and hastily announced titles. What could be Dark Paradise (sic) has a slower, tromping flavour and a stomach gripping scrape of guitar strings part way through.  

And Diagram was another freshie with an equally daggered rhythm. If anything the Comsat's have clipped the next album to an even shorter crew-cut - like running your hand over a quarter inch stubble. There are still strong sustained guitar chords heavy with vibrato and stalking bass lines, but with more room between them and breaks for breath in the drumbeat.  

Not as though that lessons the attack on the spine. Total War and Independence Day had the usual shifting affect on the feet, both cracking performances; and though the Comsat's must be keen to be breaking the new material it was probably a mistake to follow those two with another new song.  

The end of play at the Sundown didn't hit the staggering peaks it promised three-quarters of the way through the gig, though that's no fault of the songs. Just give the audience time. 

Paul Colbert

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