Genie Genie : The Musical Live at the Circus

Just at the point where we can very almost taste the return of live performances, Leeds based Genie Genie give us a glimpse of their live tool kit. Today sees the release of their long anticipated recorded live performance from Eiger Studios, The Musical: Live at the Circus.

It should be stressed this recording is not simply an extended poorly produced live stream. There were no less than 4 cameras used in the filming and the near 30 minutes of footage has been lovingly put together with a solid as stone image and sound production on it. Behind the band, the set has the Middle Eastern vibe with blowing fabrics and a hint of the dark red exotic night of a Bedouin tent in the Wadi Rum desert (I have truthfully been in a couple).

From what I can see too, there are no blunt chisels in this set. Musically here Genie Genie is more like lead man and main muse Tiss originally imagined, a full 6-piece band. Alongside Tiss (Louie Tissiman) are: Drums: Caleb, Guitar: Jacob, Organ: Ben, Bass: Cornish and Sax: Arron. The video is very timely as Genie Genie have a few live gigs lined up.

When I think of Genie Genie, I think of T. Rex main man Marc Bolan. Not particularly musically, not physically but in spirit and drive perhaps. I know Genie Genie lead Tiss admires Bolan, and it was Bolan who coined a phrase “Shock Rock”, which was all about putting on a massive live spectacle that feels strange and bold. When I spoke with Tiss last September, he explained “I am all over being a bit of a weirdo on stage for 45 minutes. I really love that. I’m really into the artistic visual side of things, that’s a really big thing for me”.

In terms of the music then, of all the young artists coming through now Gene Gene are really doing something different. There’s a flavour of the Middle East and world music blended with a chugging roll, a pinch of theatre, and a sense of the unexpected. What I particularly like is that there’s a delicious sense of space about Genie Genie. The music is not pitched at the short, tight, and snappy 3-minute banger. In the set are some new tracks (Hot Custard) but also the familiar with the first released Genie Genie tracks Lust Over You, and Faire Un Voeu getting an airing too.

There’s a rather free jazz vibe going on, in part created by the lovely sax playing of band member Aaron, whose performance here is particularly special. Likewise, I get a bit of the vibe of the freestyle Doors which might come from the excellent keys from Ben. This is anarchistic belly dancing. Anyone wanting something post punk, away from the anticipated, but at the same time quite accessible, will want to check Genie Genie out. 

Vocally Tiss makes me think a little of the early biting vocals of John Lydon and the Jah Wobble influenced era Public Image Limited. I also have a feel for the burlesque, and world music blend of Marc and the Mambas (Marc Almond’s “keep me sane” Soft Cell era splinter band, although they threaded more Spanish, Mexican, and North African music into their heart). There’s something in Gene Gene that has roots stretching back in time and which straddles cultures.   

Another thing I remember about Bolan is that he once pointed out it was the male peacock that struts around proud and tall with the feathers displayed, rather than the female. Here, Tiss may have a can of Stella rather than peacock feathers but he is a natural talent for the stage with his striking persona, image, and dress sense. Genie Genie demand to be noticed, and when you do, it is well worth it.

So, if you want in on a bit of Gene Gene live, there are full band performances due at the beautifully formed Yes venue in Manchester on 4th June and The Amersham Arms in London on 9th June as part of the 1-2-3-4 NSEW tour. Drop along and see what you think…

Chris R

* Images taken from the video and from Genie Genie’s social media   

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