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  THE CHAMELEONS w/ The Union and The Sightseers  
  The Echo Lounge  
  East Atlanta, GA  
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I have been promising Dilettante in Distress a real review of this show for months now. She couldn't make it down from the corn-encrusted heartland of our country, so i was there vicariously for her. I know it's been a while since the show, but i have had this half-written for quite some time.

There were two openers, The Sightseers and The Union. Neither were particularly good. I remember sitting at the bar enjoying watching the crowd. And what a crowd it was: this show was packed out. There were old goths and old new wave kids (now well into adulthood) getting out to party for The Chameleons. It had kind of the "oldies circuit" vibe. I have been to see some big 80's acts lately (The P Furs first and foremost) that didn't have an oldies vibe. But this show did. I think maybe because i was sitting at the bar for most of it -- i could see wild-eyed people order drink after drink after drink. In fact, i think i saw three separate women collapse under the combined triple-threat of a really late night, too much booze, and the heat in the club. I still go to a lot of shows, and my tolerance to alcohol and heat are probably a little higher than the average working stiff. So, this is what leads me to believe that there were lots of people there who just don't get out.

Another reason is that the people there were all my age, but i didn't know them. Oh sure, i recognized a few people, but most of them were brand new. Or rather, they were oldsters who stay home more, for whatever reason.

Anyway, i spent most of the first two acts chatting with folks (including a fellow CT listie! Sadly, she was emigrating to the UK. Oh well: i will remain the only listie in ATL.) However, one thing did stand out: The Union attempted to cover Love Vigilantes by New Order. I say attempted, because melodically their guitarists were not up to the task, so it came across very weak. However, well, the crowd did recognize it and sing along while dancing, so from the persepective of "fulfilling the job of an opening act" this was a good choice.

Then came The Chameleons, the new wave act that could drag all of these people to a sweaty bar. I like them okay (i think Strange Times is an essential pre-shoegazer album), but never really got into them. That is, i listen to that one CD, and to an EP that i have on vinyl, but that really fills the need for Chameleons in my life. Not that i haven't enjoyed the other stuff that i have heard. It just, well, i think that most of their stuff sounds kind of the same, so i never really felt compelled to track it all down. In all fairness to them: maybe it's just the stuff i have heard that sounds similar.

My point here is that The Chameleons played for 90 minutes to an enthuiastic and appreciative crowd, and i didn't recognize a single song!

What struck me about them is, well, i don't really mean this as an insult, but they are like a second-string version of The Church. I mean, it's obvious that the vocalist is trying to do a "poetic lyricism" type of thing, but Steve Kilbey does it better. And the two guitarists are great, but i'd bet that Marty Wilson-Piper and Peter Koppes could whup their asses if it came down to it... Now that may all sound like an insult, but i really don't mean it that way. The Church are one of my favorite bands ever. The poetry and chorused guitar of The Chameleons reminds me of the same from The Church, and i am more familiar with The Church, so to me The Chameleons sound derivative. But really: both bands are from pretty much the same time period (early 80's), but from different sides of the planet (Chameleons from the UK, The Church from Australia), so i suppose that neither are derivative of the other, rather they are parallel in their development.

My point here is that as i stood in the crowd listening and generally enjoying the show, there were times when i would think, "Hmmm. This reminds me of something off of Heydey. I should get that down and listen to it tomorrow." And, when i think about it, i would much rather have gone to see The Church than The Chameleons, but that's just me.

But really -- i enjoyed the show a good deal. And i think that i need to listen to more of The Chameleons, in prep for the next time they come into town.

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