“We’re Titus Andronicus and we’re really excited to be here,” said lead singer and guitarist, Andrew Cedermark at the top of his band’s performance. “Let’s have the best time ever!”
It was a tall order, but with their Band-of-Brothers stage presence, charming malice and disharmonious three part harmonies, this New Jersey five-piece made sure the Hoxton crowd at least forgot their Monday blues.
Visually, Titus Andronicus look like five of Giovanni Ribisi’s taller, better-looking cousins. Musically, they’re Galaxie 500, The Clash (circa London Calling), and those weird, crypto-Celtic songs the coppers sing during bar scenes in The Wire.
The band call it punk, but these boys have more in common with The Who or The Modern Lovers. How many groups touring today can get away with playing a twelve bar blues (Titus Andronicus Forever) and make it look like a National Lampoon’s Animal House outtake?
A little over a decade ago the great American author Thomas Pynchon wrote liner notes of a long since dissolved band. Therein he said that rock n roll was about finding ‘a pathway through to us here in our own corrupted and perilous day, when everybody’s heard everything and knows more than they wish they did.’
Titus Andronicus shone a light on that pathway when they covered Jonathan Richman’s Roadrunner, when they dedicated songs to the roadies, told us how much they care about the US civil war, answered back the hecklers and counted songs in with a time-honoured ‘1-2-3-4’.
Few bands offer access to such beguiling, unmediated, good time rock n roll. All of us here in the corrupted and perilous day could do worse than listen.