carbon/silicon

It came as no surprise that Carbon/Silicon’s songs were a bit more raw and sloppy when performed live, but I mean that in an endearing way. This show was gimmick free. These are aging punk legends, after all, and if the show was slick and perfectly executed, it would have made for a disturbing night.

Mick Jones and Tony James were a positively gleeful duo, grinning at each other and the audience for almost the entire 90-minute set. They were up there playing as two best mates wearing their Sunday best (down to the gleaming cuff links), having the time of their lives, not afraid to look as if they couldn’t believe they were pulling it off so swimmingly. Their happiness was contagious and most of the audience, myself included, couldn’t help but smile back.

Mick Jones’ fey, dapper swagger and above all, his familiar voice, was another reason to smile. If you’re a fan of The Clash, you can’t help but be in awe of the guy. He’s got a great knack for charming banter in-between songs, at one point making a joke that he “wrote one tune in 1948.” His voice hasn’t changed much through the years, (though he did seem to have some trouble hitting the higher notes during the chorus of “The News”, one of the hits off the band’s album The Last Post). Luckily, he took it all in stride and was clearly chuckling to himself, wincing in good fun, while getting through some of the higher parts.

Tony James was always known as a great bass player (Generation X, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, London SS) and is only considered a “decent” guitarist by those with a more critical ear for such things, but since Carbon/Silicon is more about exuberant, blues buoyancy than epic guitar, he’s the perfect counterbalance for Jones’ more fervent strumming.

If you’re a fan of Big Audio Dynamite (bassist Leo “E-Zee-Kill” Williams was from BAD as well), Babyshambles (their first album was produced by Jones) or even the barely-known Littl’ans, this band’s subtly intoxicating, reggae-tinged rhythm section is for you. As Tony Fletcher says in his review of the show, “Carbon/Silicon is about the beauty of the guitar riff. Play the same over and over. And over and over. And when you’ve played it over and over and over and over, play it over and again some more. Vary it every so slightly. Only the astute listener will know that you’re doing so. But subconsciously they’ll recognize the difference. This is how dance music works.” It all seems so simple, from the bass and drum lines to the guitar riffs, but it’s impactful, hip-swinging stuff nonetheless. And what Clash fan wasn’t secretly thrilled to pick up on some of the guitar Clashisms in the song “What the Fuck”?–MVW & CD

 
  1. [...] Look for Sentimentalist’s interview with Carbon/Silicon in the March issue, coming soon! In the meantime, check out our report from their December 5th show in New York here. [...]