Month: January 1981

Department S live review – Clarendon Hotel, London – 31st January, 1981

No Comments

The atmosphere of a clandestine gig pervaded the Clarendon basement, with people overflowing from every nook and cranny. It’s the type of place where probably half the audience is in some band or another. Department S had no problem in pulling a fair sized crowd, probably because the band have received more than the occasional airplay on the John Peel show, even though their name sounds more like that of a TV programme. Many of their songs were about vision, including television. They put all the crosses in the right boxes. ‘Take a Bow’ was an apt beginning, followed by the single ‘Is Vic There’ to fill your ears with music while the night is young. But there is not here. The vocals, guitars, and synthesiser blended together to give depth to their songs. A couple of cover versions were thrown in: an old Roxy Music number for one, and another, Bolan’s ‘Solid Gold Easy Action’ fused in perfect unity with The ‘Stones’ ‘Satisfaction’. Very clever, and very stylish.

AMANDA NICHOLLS – ‘Record Mirror

Puerile Skins Fail To Dig Neo-Futurism Shock

No Comments

Department S live review – Clarendon Hotel, London – 24th January, 1981

One of the problems with being a critic is that one tends to look too objectively at bands. One doesn’t think about what they may be able to do in the future – a concert is too often treated as one complete act, rather than a reference point within a larger act. Although they are under-rehearsed, Dept S are tight and solid with some beautiful funk(y) guitar playing from Michael Herbage. He plays in a style that’s free flowing and breezy, creating a froth over the bass/drums rhythm section. The light wind that Herbage eases out of his guitar is marred only by the wooden and (over) simple synthesiser playing of Eddie Roxy.

The sounds that he drags out of his synth are totally superfluous to the music that Department S are/should be aiming for. The music has to grow more until a proper assessment can be made, but so far Department S are building something that could be worthwhile. Even though at the Clarendon they were faced with an audience of apathetic punks and puerile skinheads, interested only in pouring beer over each other’s heads, Department S fought on. Once again we find we are back to the problem of atrocious concert venues stunting the growth of bands who have yet to find themselves. They must be radical, and not rely on cover versions of Bolan and Roxy songs (although I love them) to gain audiences appreciation. Too safe. They are not quite strong enough, they are not breaking new ground. Yet they must break new ground, they must, they have to – if only to survive.

Chris Burkham – ‘Sounds’