The last night of The Orwells UK tour was marred by controversy, with lead singer Mario Cuomo involved in several alterations with the bouncers at London’s Scala.
Famous for their rambunctious and boisterous live performances, the Chicago garage-rock band severely tested the patience of the King’s Cross venue’s security on several occasions during a frenetic and occasionally electrifying set.
The warning signs are clear early on during the gig, with the audience close to tipping point right from set opener ‘Black Francis’, taken from the band’s recently released third record, Terrible Human Beings. “When I get it, I’m never gonna stop. We should hit it,” screeches Cuomo, setting the tone for a frenetic set.
Dressed in his traditional attire of tatty black skinny jeans and sparkling gold blazer, Cuomco is clearly in the mood to cause trouble, hurling himself about the compact Scala stage and periodically throwing himself in among the raucous crowd.
The band’s new release features heavily, with seven out of the first eight songs in the early part of the set coming from the new album. However, all are received with the enthusiasm and gusto of any of the four-piece’s earlier material.
The first signs of trouble become clear after the band rattle through a hectic rendition of ‘They Put a Body in the Bayou.’ After one particularly exuberant fan is hoisted above the crowd, the security attempts to intervene, and their gruff handling of the youngster is given short shrift by Cuomo, who gives one of the bouncers a sturdy shove, before berating him after the end of the track. To say the bouncer is unimpressed is an understatement.
Nonetheless, the set continues with abandon, as Cuomo and co blast through thrilling numbers such as ‘In My Bed’ and ‘Southern Comfort’ from their first two LP’s. Of course, part of the appeal of The Orwells is their slightly unhinged, ‘we don’t give a fuck’ attitude, but its hard not to feel sorry for the Scala security as Cuomo dives off the stage for the umpteenth time, delighting and terrifying the onlooking audience in equal measure.
Words are almost certainly exchanged between Cuomo and the aforementioned bouncer in the aftermath of breakthrough hit ‘Who Needs You’, resulting in the former leaving the stage before the conclusion of ‘Heavy Head’, leaving the rest of the band to finish the song in his absence. Eventually, Cuomo returns and the band close out their set with the grungy closer from Terrible Human Beings, ‘Double Feature.’
Not content with the chaos he has already caused, however, Cuomo clambers up on the speakers of the London venue and heaves himself onto the balcony. Fearing the shaggy, long-haired frontman is about to jump into the crowd below, a member of security heaves Cuomo to safety with much difficulty, marring what was otherwise another blistering performance from a band at the very top of their game.