home - contact    


Hammersmith Apollo, London
Yahoo Music (October 2003)

The best bits, as with their often startling appearances on daytime radio, are when they mutate suddenly. One moment they’ll be slinking coolly along, resolutely polished mainstream pop perfect for designer shopping or an afternoon’s casual defoliation. And the next they’ll have lifted off, sprouting razor teeth and growling like mad ragga women from another dimension. Best of all, they let you know it’s coming. “Get ready for the breakdown!” they scream. Cue wailing guitars, mad Hammond organs, Outkast vibes. It’s all too exciting.

In their own strange, sweet way, Mis-teeq are r&b’s answer to a prog rock mindfuck. Songs go on forever, changing completely, shifting onto another movement or style. They love medleys, mashing everything together so comprehensively that you’re not sure where one tune ends and another takes up. And yet, within this deranged avant pop beast, there lurks a heart that beats pure nice, pure simple, pure straightforward and inoffensive. At times, they’re so nice, they’re totally bland. At others, they’re evil in excelsis.

As with many British girl groups, Mis-Teeq are also endearingly shoddy live. They do a medley of songs they devised dance routines for at school (a cool statement of intent as it turns out, aligning themselves alongside classics like En Vogue’s “Whatta Man”, Salt N’Pepa’s “Push It”, and TLC’s “No Scrubs” and “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg”, prompting a huge singalong in the process), and their moves are so awful Yahoo Music could manage them. A bit of hand waving here. A couple of steps this way (but not all three girls in time). Some more hand waving. An unbothered air of “will this do?”

The stageshow is, well, shoddy too. Directly after pumping up the crowd to a frenzy with that hits megamix and a brilliant “Better Better”, they bounce off for a costume change that takes a good ten minutes. The band introduce themselves with some swish tropicalia, all Barry Manilow groove and soca sway, and the excitement ebbs. What are the girls doing? Shopping for new outfits? Undergoing plastic surgery? Learning how to stilt walk? You expect them to come back transformed! In the event, they’ve swapped white trousers and bras for long red dresses. Which have no back to the skirt, making it look like they’ve all tucked their skirts into their knickers. Either that or Benny Hill is alive and well and working in costume design.

You know they’d be laughed back across the Atlantic if they pulled this amateur-fest in the US, and yet somehow you can’t help loving them for it. They exude pleasantness – not so much CrazySexyCool as NiceAlsoNiceNiceAsWell – but they’re never overbearing like a Mariah or a Whitney. Brian Dowling is roped on to sit in a chair while they cavort around him, but it’s not at all erotic just vaguely sweet. They sing “you can take me home tonight” and all you can think of is a nice cup of tea and rousing game of Scrabble. But then “Dance Your Cares Away” does that spectacular mutation thing, soaring off into the stratosphere with screaming children in its teeth and you’re laughing like a maniac.

They end with darkness and silence. They’ve gone off to wait for an encore, but have neglected to mention that it’s the end of the show. So everyone just kind of sits around, not too sure what’s going on. Eventually an unseen male voice has to declare “are you ready to go home yet?” and we all cheer with relief. They come back on – no costume change! – and scoot through a glorious run through of “Scandalous”. And you’re still laughing when it’s all over and that same voice has the cheek to announce “Mis-Teeq have left the building”. May they never, ever get their act together..

Ian Watson
Music, film, comedy and travel journalist based in London

» about me

» features

» reviews

» photographs

» how does it feel    to be loved?

» contact me

  All contents © Ian Watson  

eXTReMe Tracker