‘I’m Aladdin’ shrugged a fez topped Adam Green upon landing on the stage of the Portland Arms. And then he smiled, such an open mouthed, sparkly eyed, manic smile, that the audience were infected with exactly what they needed for the magical night of melodic hysterics and A-List surprises to follow…
He was Aladdin because in his latest short film and accompanying soundtrack album ‘Aladdin’ he plays the character Aladdin. A surrealist contemporary frolic on the classic Arabian Nights tale, the film stars New York film/arts/music industry-ites such as Macauley Culkin, Har Mar Superstar and Zoe Kravitz. Watch if you like Mighty Boosh, Monty Python, Bunny & The Bull… Don’t if you don’t. It’s easy to judge it as an amateurish and cliquey vanity project, because it is bizarre, and in its own world, but honestly it’s chock full of unusual creativity with flashes of brilliance and actual artistic integrity. Visually, it’s pretty special.
The tour was part of the Aladdin project, so bright pops of colour and theatrical qualities were injected into the gig. A bold patchwork painting hung as the backdrop, and the band casually aligned on attire with mostly sky blue flares, matching ruffle shirts and straw boater hats. This Epsteinian decision set such a happy 60s pop mood (and a gorgeous black Rickenbacker bass guitar further heightened that).
Green chose the perfect band to join him on tour. They supported him during his set but they were also the warm up, under their own moniker Coming Soon. They were astonishingly good. Perfectly composed edgy indie art-pop mixed with hints of surf, disco, punk, new wave, and clearly influenced by the electro dance rhythms of their homeland, France. I’m talking hip rolling, finger clicking, pigeon headed dancing driven by brightly effected guitar riffs, interesting drum rhythms and charming bass structures. And those components were never rushed when it was time to break down for a boogie.
Each and every single member were clearly multi-instrumental whiz kids. Three of five members shared vocal duties which wonderfully refreshed their music each time they swapped or harmonised. Frontman Howard Hughes was particularly extraordinary. For one song, he dropped the mic to romantically walk around the venue in between the punters, belting a solo ballad as beautiful as it was confident. The rest of the band sat on stage, watching themselves. The entire room was unequivocally in awe.
Apologies, Adam Green. I’ve dedicated a large chunk of this review to, well, not you. Coming Soon were pretty mind blowing, but don’t let that hurt. You’ve been assuredly in my good books since… 2004? I’m glad you’ve kept it up.
His presence carried such a pure expression of delight. I usually consider the phrase ‘prancing around’ to be ugly, suggestive of egotistic posturing, but Adam Green redefined it to simply mean carefree enthusiasm. He entertained with smiles, direct eye contact, laughs, experimental dance moves, and by getting a bit naked (well, he unbuttoned his shirt).
Mixing up his catalogue throughout, it was a treat to hear new hits such as ‘Never Lift A Finger’ and ‘Nature Of The Clown’, and to know that he’s still coming out with them. He also gratified his fans with classic hits such as ‘Tropical Island’, ‘Jessica’, ‘Friends of Mine’, and even took 3 or 4 requests, sweetly dedicating them to each requester.
Oh yeah, and, Macauley Culkin. Little Kevin from Home Alone. The hilarious t-shirtception player alongside Ryan Gosling. Yeah, you know him. Yep, the big time New York cleb Macauley Culkin also graced the Portland Arms stage during this happy night. Who was expecting that? Green introduced him late in the set with a suspense-building-surprise-reveal, and Culkin unassumingly appeared from the crowd, surprising those nearby (‘oh, how long has he been there?’) Quite a testament to the show so far, that it commanded such full attention.
Culkin stayed only for one song, duetting with Green on the Moldy Peaches album opener ‘Lucky Number 9’, stepping up to Kimya Dawson’s parts. I’m going to make no comment on quality here because, I mean, it’s Macauley Culkin and Adam Green duetting Moldy Peaches. In Cambridge. I’m sorry, but if you weren’t there, you missed out.
Words from Ellie Clarke
Images from Matt Thorpe