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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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These 'Brits' are a blast
Three bands with different styles team up for one great show. The influence of earlier British rockers is evident.
By SEAN DALY, Times Pop Music Critic
Published January 11, 2008
[Daniel Wallace | Times (2005)]
Louis XIV singer Jason Hill, opening for the Killers at the Sun Dome in 2005, leads one of the freshest new groups on any continent.
ST. PETERSBURG - Go figure: The best and bawdiest in British rock these days is swaggering out of . . . San Diego?
On a brilliant triple bill at Jannus Landing on Wednesday, three hip, cocksure bands gave a tutorial in the myriad shades of U.K. cool, even though only one of them resides across the pond.
Louis XIV, Hot Hot Heat, the Editors. If you haven't heard of these guys - and they're all very much guys, albeit different shades of skirt-chasing dudes - you soon will. They draw inspiration from their Anglo elders Bowie, Morrissey, Jagger, but cater to modern demands of style and salesmanship.
The best of the lot (if not the cleanest- and tightest-sounding) was the opener, SoCal's Louis XIV, whose swarthy come-ons and below-the-belt boasts repel as many fans as seduce them. (These guys should never play earlier than midnight; at Jannus, their royal rumble commenced at an awkward 7:50 p.m.) Their schtick is pretending to be '70s-stuck British glam idols. But let it be known that they're far too smart to let a gimmick get in the way of greatness.
Led by singer Jason Hill, who goes about his snug-trousered work like a rogue who can't wait to steal your girlfriend, Louis XIV mixed Stonesian blues (the immoral high of Guilt by Association) with Queenly beauty (if only Freddie Mercury were still around to sing Air Traffic Control). It also had not one, but two violinists onstage, so that tells you something, too.
Touring in support of upcoming album Slick Dogs and Ponies (which you mustbuy), Louis XIV was at times frustratingly sloppy, a far cry from the well-orchestrated mayhem of its albums. But reckless abandon is part of the point. And when it finally reached the struttery heights of Finding Out True Love Is Blind, there was no doubt Louis XIV is one of the freshest new groups on any continent.
Canadian quartet Hot Hot Heat is much like the dorky kid who finally has his first beer (or six) and then hits the dance floor. It indulges in a rather winning mix of nerdiness and sloppy sincerity. Frontman Steve Bays, who looks like either Bob Dylan or Leo Sayer, plays cheeseball synth with one hand and grips his mike in the other. He's a bounding, tireless entertainer, as in love with '80s British postpunk as with ginormous rock anthems.
Everything you need to know about Hot Hot Heat can be heard in unrestrained new gem Let Me In (from its latest album, Happiness Ltd.), an arena-sized monster that soars as high as anything the Killers have tried.
Birmingham, England's Editors have a reputation as a must-see live band. That's good, too, because their albums are often dour and impenetrable, like the Cure without the compassion.
But indeed, led by singer Tom Smith, who reminds me of the Tin Man after he gets that heart, the night's final act was jaunty and precision-perfect in delivering piercing, Gothic odes to alienation and disenchantment. The Editors will no doubt appeal to sad sacks in love with the Smiths - and Radiohead fans who still long for The Bends.
Sean Daly can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.