Depending on who you ask, February 14th is either a day to spend with your significant other, or to wallow in self-pity. Falling squarely into the latter category, I decided instead to round up a few similarly-single friends and head down to Riverside to catch Cabbage.
Up first though was Rhythm Method, who I can say with absolute confidence was the most baffling support act I have ever encountered. The line-up consisted of a backing track, piano chords and deadpan vocals from one-half of the duo Rowan, and bizarre half-rapping from frontman Joey (picture a young James Corden dressed in trackies) that came across as somehow both incredibly awkward and overly-confident. The overall effect was a mishmash of various retro-pop styles combined with an excessively-ironic indie aesthetic.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it may be a Wednesday night but this song’s a banger so please dance” announced Joey at one point. Which, to be fair, was heeded by a good third of the crowd. I considered asking a group of teenage girls who all seemed to be very much enjoying the set if these guys were for real, but it being Valentine’s Day and myself having just turned 21, I decided against it.
The sort of sardonic swagger pioneered by the likes of Johnny Rotten
However, I unfortunately must stand with the remaining two-thirds of the crowd on this occasion, who were for the most part standing around looking confused. Maybe the world is just not ready for Rhythm Method but in my experience, the novelty wore off pretty quickly.
The enthusiasm was, unsurprisingly, far more universal for Cabbage, kicking off the set with their newest single ‘Arms of Plexonia’ as the crowd burst into chaos. With duel frontman efforts from Lee Broadbent and Joe Martin, the duo had no shortage of the sort of sardonic swagger pioneered by the likes of Johnny Rotten. This attitude was thoroughly infectious, and was perhaps best exemplified by the second track of the night, a grooving, sly rendition of ‘Fickle’ off their debut Young Dumb and Full Of…
Never a band to shy away from being overtly-political, ‘Necroflat in the Palace’ saw the entire crowd shouting “I was born in the NHS, I wanna die in the NHS” back at the band, a cathartic experience in these increasingly absurd times. Similar was the ingeniously-titled ‘Terrorist Synthesiser’ which saw Martin take over lead vocals whilst Broadbent jumped on synth (admittedly somewhat drowned out by the force of the rest of the band, but appropriate nonetheless).
Martin adopted the persona of “a dinner lady in a private school, where the lips are so stiff and Jack Wills is so cool” for the bizarre fan-favourite ‘Dinner Lady’ – an old song brought back due to its renewed relevance, according to Martin. The (relatively) slower ‘Lies About Manchester’ provided a welcomed breather to the set, though one that was short-lived as next was the manic, Dead Kennedy’s inspired ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’, absolutely overflowing with energy and righteous indignation.
Once the dust had settled, it became apparent Cabbage would not be returning for an encore. Though this was probably for the best; there is really no way they could have topped that finale.