Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Live Review: Toy Dolls + Aviv Mark ve HaNetzach @ Reading 3, Tel Aviv [9th December 2016]

Once in a while, a legendary act will come to Tel Aviv. Normally it's a 60s/70s rock band or a singer/song writer but on the odd occasion like today, we get to witness one of the oldest British punk bands. The Toy Dolls might not be all that relevant in the scheme of punk rock nowadays but a lot of the bands that are would tell you that they were a big influence. Therefore, there are a lot of punk fans, both old school and new school, attending tonight's show at Reading 3, a pretty swanky looking venue in the north of Tel Aviv by the sea.

Aviv Mark ve HaNetzach

   Opening up tonight's event is local band Aviv Mark ve HaNetzach (which I think stands for "Aviv Mark and The Eternity"). Previously known as Aviv mark ve HaMavet ("Aviv Mark and The Death"?), it's a pretty typically mature-aged Israeli "alternative" group. With two drummers, they come off a bit like Melvins but just not as heavy or as interesting. There's the odd good riff and sometimes the two drum kits are put to good use by playing different patterns at the same times but it does also get a little messy. With my attention to Hebrew lyrics never really at its best in a live setting, I can't really say much about lyrical content but the vibe is mostly dark. It's more 80s new-wave meets 90s grunge and just similar to quite a few bands I've seen/heard out here before. It is still fun to watch, especially the energy of both drummers and the bassist, but out of all the acts in Israel who could support tonight's main act, this choice doesn't really make sense.


The Toy Dolls

   To some, The Toy Dolls are a joke punk band only famous for their version of Nelly The Elephant. Tonight, there is many a fan who knows that they are more than that and the band prove it.

   Arriving on stage in their grey and red suit-like attire with tiny red ties and iconic sunglasses, Olga (guitar and lead vocals), Tommy (bass) and Duncan (drums) are met with raucous applause and cheering. I personally clapped the loudest for Duncan (Redmonds), for I am a Snuff fan and admire him for being a great singing drummer.

   Being a band with a repertoire spanning 30+ years, it's hard to get every song and every hit into a set. Although the band doesn't supply the likes of  I Got Asthma, James Bond Lives Down Our Street or The Devil Went Down To Scunthorpe, they still do the fun Spiders In The Dressing Room, the rocking Idle Gossip and their superb and almost metallic rendition of Bach's Toccata in D Minor.

  Seeing and hearing The Toy Dolls in person is actually quite an interesting experience. Alongside silly songs like the catchy The Death Of Barry The Roofer With Vertigo and the infamous crowd-pleaser Nellie The Elephant, the latter of which unsurprisingly getting the greatest reception, they also play comparatively more sentimental songs such as Alec's Gone and She'll Be Back With Keith Someday. Using more melody and having deeper lyrical meaning than some of the others, these are personal highlights for me as I found myself singing along.

   As the band play through their set, that is practically all they do. There doesn't seem any need for too much banter, jokes or self indulgence, they basically play one song, say "thank you" and then crack on to the next one. Normally I would criticise a band for not being engaging enough but I can't accuse The Toy Dolls of that. Olga and Tommy are always looking at the crowd and encouraging them to sing along. The two also have good chemistry on stage, often jumping about and swapping places, doing Status Quo style synchronised guitar swaying and just seeming to be full of life. This rubs off on the crowd as even people standing at the back and the sides start to dance. Although the crowd aren't as rowdy as what I've seen before, the few that do find themselves on stage get quite heavily escorted off by security. Sometimes this makes sense if a crowd member is getting in the way of a performance or interfering with the musicians. That didn't seem the case this time and came off as unnecessarily aggressive.  

We hear more covers nearer the end of the set, including the instrumentals Wipe Out (The Surfaris) and the timeless classic When The Saints Go Marching In, but it's the final encore where we get the bouncy "la-la la" sing-along of She Goes To Finos to round off a fun night.

  Everyone has a different interpretation of what punk is. The Toy Dolls might not be as tough and serious as Sham 69 nor as fast and aggressive as Discharge but they do what they do well, with charisma and from the heart.


All photos courtesy of Miguel St Labao

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