Live Review: Claytown Troupe, Marquee, 27th January, 1990

Wild West Troupers

The Marquee is packed, a sweaty heaving mass of rockers from all across the spectrum. They're here to witness the appearance of CLAYTOWN TROUPE, a boisterous five-piece from Bristol. Over the past 12 months the Troupe have created quite a stir on the live circuit. When they recently played at the Hippodrome, they were certainly a cut above any other band I've seen there. Admittedly the competition hasn't exactly been red hot, but any band that can get signed up so quickly by a major record company must have something going for them.

The centre of attention is singer Christian Riou, with his swept back hair and sculptured striking features. He commands attention and exudes intensity as his voice rages above the driving exhilerating sound the band creates.

Tell Me is one of the best tracks from their debut album, Through The Veil. The rumbling bass and the sinister edge of the vocals make this song a little bit special. "This is the one that started it all for us," announces Riou before introducing Prayer their first single.

While comparisons with THE CULT are odious, it is along those lines with its Red Indian fascination and searing riff courtesy of guitarist Adrian Bennet. If comparisons are to be made, then the Troupe's music and attitude are located somewhere between NEW MODEL ARMY's bitter vitriolic and the more spacey indie-rock of GENE LOVES JEZEBEL (Reviled in the UK, revered in the US).

Hey Lord stands out imperiously, the keyboards create a haunting ethereal sound before our senses are assaulted by the dirty riff and savage vocals. The new single Real Life would not be my choice as a single, but live the band inject it with a frantic energy that creates a positive feedback with the audience.

During the encores, we're treated to a new song Feel Like A Woman modestly described by Christian Riou as "Brilliant." It's not quite that, but it reeks of steamy sex (and I won't go into the song's orgasmic climax!!). The band depart and you can feel the condensation dripping off the back of your neck.

It's hard to predict what the future holds for this honest, uncompromising band. However, there's got to be a place for their brand of no-nonsense rock. Clayton Troupe are more than just beery leather boys, and it would be stupid to label them as just another metal band. Christian Riou is only too aware of this. This is evident when he mimics a cliched banshee wail in an amazing Spinal Tap parody. So, I'll leave the last word to him: "We're not a heavy metal band. We're The Claytown Troupe!" 'Nuff said!

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
April, 1990

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