Smearing your soul on the wall is the easy bit.
Blood and guts, severed genitalia, they look good up there.
It's part of everyone's interior decor now. The room is
black, the room is red. This is not the remarkable thing
about Ruby. Nor is Lesley Rankine's alleged and sudden
conversion to trip-hop. Yup, we're back to the constant
suspicion that pop is really a hundred yards dash. Never
mind who does it best - who got there first?
Why does she do it, and what does it all mean? The
answers are doubtless simple, and will tell you precisely
nothing. How does it feel when she does it? That's what you
need to know. It feels like greed. It feels like hunger. It
feels like resentment impacted to the consistency of lava.
It feels like wanting things you don't need. Lesley's blunt
face, hovering above the tiny stage, a threat or an
accusation. It feels like being crowded and jostled by
someone else's thoughts.
A very Nineties thing, claustrophobia. Enforced intimacy
seems to be one of the themes of the decade. This club is
small enough to forbid even Ruby's four-piece ensemble elbow
room, which is exactly as it should be. If there's a thread
running through Lesley/Ruby's, uh, work - hard to think of
Silverfish as being work in any sense - it's her liking for
ramming the truth home, something that's always done best at
The truth, as Ruby sees it, is rarely pleasant. It used to
be that you were a Total Fucking Asshole, whoever you were.
Now, you're an asshole with garnish and an oak leaf cluster.
Ruby delivers sophisticated abuse and channelled fury: men
are spineless shitbags who should be sent home with their
peckers in their pockets; however much you have, it's not
enough; there are some sick people out there. These opinions
are true enough, as it goes - you can't disprove them,
anyhow. Ruby's talent is to make them sound like the truth,
to deliver them as complex little parcel bombs. You may be a
cocksucker. You probably are. Ruby is one of the few people
you would pay for the pleasure of having her tell you so.
Technical details, if you insist on them: pre-recorded
backing tracks and sparse live instruments, although my
favourite touch is the Ventolin inhaler perched on the
keyboard. I like a band that's openly asthmatic, and it
especially suits Ruby's suffocated idiom. Perhaps I'm being
insensitive here, and Ruby keeps the inhaler there as a
matter of life and death, but if you ask me, the only thing
missing from Ruby's rickety assaults is the puff of a
breathing apparatus. The whole feel of the show is of a
near-stifled mind panting and screaming, before settling
into a more measured strain of venom. Measured in
concentrated teaspoonfuls, that is.
Going to a Ruby gig is the closest most of us will come to
milking a snake.
That's close enough.
--- David Bennun