Bill Cummings 20/07/2005
Don't you just hate wardrobe malfunctions? They can spoil a perfectly good Mod image. That must be what Dogs front man Johnny Cooke is thinking as he takes the stage and his trousers flies give up the ghost and break. Turning his back on the audience he grapples with his drain pipe trousers and tucks his white shirt down his pants. Flanked by Rikki and Luciano on guitars, and Duncan on Bass, he turns round, grabs the microphone and screams his way through the openers “Charlie” and aptly given the broken trousers “Its Not Right”, behind him the Dogs sound is propulsive, pretty, no nonsense garage rock. Built on powerful guitars, and rhythmic bass lines it's a sound that hints at The Libertines, and The Jam, whilst Johnny sounds at times like a demented John Lydon. Dancing around the stage Johnny resembles Rhys Ifans, and Johnny Borrell, making him ripe for the indie cover boy treatment - in fact in six months time the NME will probably be calling the Dogs the best thing since sliced bread, maybe they are already (I don't read the NME anymore).
Next up is new single “Selfish Ways” its got a great little melody, simple but sharp lyrics (“I'll bring you firewood/But I'll burn your house down) and a cracking set of guitar hooks, its like a more gritty Razorlight flogging the Stones, but this is enjoyable stuff and the crowd certainly are moved. Elsewhere “She's Got A Reason” sees Johnny employ an Ian Dury-esque spoken word style, before breaking into a punk rock howl, backed by a killer guitar lick. I will say that one problem with the Dogs is the variable quality of their lyrics. Whilst some of them tell tales of nine to five alienation in old London town, some of them seem to consist of vaguely throwaway rock 'n' roll nonsense - as is the case with “She's Got A Reason”. “Tuned to a different station” with it's clawing vocals, scuzzy backings and call to arms type lyrics (“And I've still got faith in my generation”) and undeniably catchy chorus, sounds like a hit, and will probably be re-released to great acclaim at some later date. If you like tuneful, powerful garage/punk rock sound, then you will probably lap this up, and certainly its pretty much better than anything Razorlight have come up with (that isn't saying much). Last up is former single “ London Bridge ” and it's probably the Dogs best song so far. Rumour has it Kate Moss wants it for the latest Rimmel Advert; one in the eye Pete.
I am not ashamed to admit I enjoyed this gig, yes Dogs are slightly contrived punk/garage/rock and yes, when they release their new album 'Turn Against This Land' on August 1st, we will probably all get sick of them very quickly. But live you cant take away the fact that right now they exude a “fuck you” passion so sadly lacking in some of their contemporaries and behind the some of the trendy mod-ish tendencies, there seems to lay a band with something to say; which can never be a bad thing.