Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Despite no new material, having broken up in 1998, indie-punk duo Carter USM have had more rebirths than horror villain Michael Myers. After reforming temporarily to the original twosome in 2007, they sold tickets on the basis of A Farewell Tour, with fans flocking in fear that it would be their last chance to see them. Yet here we are seven years later at another reincarnation at Shepherd’s Bush Empire – the penultimate concert before the curtain show at Brixton Academy.
“In two days time, we will have to look for new jobs,” pondered vocalist Jim Bob in what was probably the most sensible statement he made all night. Tonight’s performance showed that Carter USM don’t just sum up the transitional evolution of late 1980s to mid-90s British rock music, but more that they are part of a distinctive lad culture that you have to be a full-time member of to fully understand. The excitable crowd showed their affiliation to that scene, exemplified by their premature carolling of 90s tracks, astonishing crowd jumping and bottle throwing.
Jim Bob’s random and mundane observations, expletive language, cheeky insults about London and his “masculine” banter were his way of communicating, not as a celebrity but as “one of the lads”, in a similar vein to Carter’s 90s compatriots Oasis and Blur. However, unlike the former, he admirably showed humility and self-deprecation in his speeches. The crowd’s vulgar chants were a supportive response to an unusual opening gambit, where 13 half-naked, beer-bellied men spelled out the nickname of recently deceased regular support act Jon “Fat” Beast on their chests. It was one of many fitting tributes to their friend, which also included Inspiral Carpets’ This Is How It Feels.
Undeniably, Carter USM’s most adored cover is still The Impossible Dream. A break from indie punk antics, it started off with electronically produced echoes and developed into human echoing as fans swayed their arms in unison. Among the many reproductions were their own Top 40 hits: Glam Rock Cops and Sheriff Fatman, complete with their trademark speech sampling.
The duo proved to be unstoppable machines after surpassing the two-hour mark with their two encores, which finished a night that was exclusively about nobody else but their adoring 90s generational army.
Matt Taylor Hobbs
Photos: Zak Macro
For further information about Carter USM and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Sheriff Fatman here:
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