There’s a fair amount of stuff to do with FEET which you’d do well not to take at face value.
For instance, their debut album is called What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham, has cover art which should be marked as not safe for vegans and contains songs about break ins and winding up OAPs.
As if to emphasise this playful lack of gravity, as they take to the stage at Leeds’s Hyde Park Book Club lead singer Jeep (AKA George) is mugging in his England football t-shirt and retro mutton chops, giving the impression that he’s just got back from the 1982 World Cup.
Some kind of super-ironic novelty band then? Well, no. Despite its shonky title and worse presentation, their first album is a fabulously loose-limbed rocket through waspish indie, ferocious punk and country-psychedelia, a set of pub-tall stories made by some of the wickedest disco Turks this side of Madchester.
Played in by Barry White, the quintet ooze confidence (or maybe it’s just the prodigious amounts of cheap lager) and can afford to start with English Weather, one of the never hits of the year which once heard, you will be guaranteed to be grabbing friends in pubs and begging them to listen to. Most bands would’ve needed the guarantee of finishing up on that high, but instead the Coventry swingers are OK to throw it out with supreme nonchalance, like park-chucking a frisbee to a dog.
Occasionally having to compete with the extreme bass emanating from upstairs’ punky reggae party, the temptation of adding new and unnecessary frills to these groove-smashed tunes is resisted wisely throughout, Jeep instead goofing off like a cross between Mick Jagger and Bez. Everything is up a notch higher and better for being live, the laconic drawl of Dog Walking even blurrier, the choppy funk of Ad Blue and the driving Chalet 47 both wilder rides.
We all like a bit of suspense though, and there are things in the locker which will take the already rubber-limbed crowd into overdrive: having made them wait until the rump end of the set, the fuse is lit with a hyper-speed version of Outer Rim, followed by the drag racing thwack of Petty Thieving, a tribute to the little joy of shoplifting things you can afford, just for shits and giggles.
Just before that Jeep croons ‘I’m just taking the piss’ on Wiggy Pop, either a confession or a statement of fact, or possibly both given whatever state of mind the band are in. Distinguishing in FEET land between what’s sincere and what’s straight faced wind-up is impossible, but truly who cares? If the test of a great record is being delivered greatly live, tonight is another massive yes.
Even if the joke’s on us, the punchline’s still one of the best you’ve heard all year.