"Oh my God! Their drummer’s only about 12!"

There’s 30-odd elderly (ie, aged 21-plus) punters crammed into north London’s teeniest record shop and Operator Please have got us jumping through hoops like a Cruft’s agility champion.

First, there’s the ‘queueing outdoors in the freezing cold’ challenge, when the doors open late. Then the Moonie wedding-esque ‘indie in-store’ crush to contend with as we all stampede in (how come the redwoods always get to the front first?). And, worst of all, like that stunned girl at the back’s pointing out, we’re caught up in a mass bout of underage paranoia. The Aussie/Kiwi five-some are all aged 19 and under, look 16 and under – and have a good amount of us terrified of being slapped on some sort of register for being in the same room as them.

Just as we’re clearing our minds of rogue child protection officers and engaging in a bit of passive aggressive "get out of my square foot of space, loser" elbow jostling, the band enter stage left, (well, from a room behind the counter) and saunter to their allotted postage stamp of floor space just in front of the tills.

They look as coiffed, polished and prêt a porter as an Elle fashion spread. And the minute the opening power chords to ‘Get What You Want’ cut in, it’s obvious there’s nothing juvenile about these fresh faces. With three years of solid gigging behind them, the playing is so tight you’d think James Brown was about to zip down from the ether and slap a fine on them. But forget about that, from heartbroken slowies to hyperactive ramalama distortion pedal mosh-alongs it’s immediately obvious Operator Please are all about good old-fashioned pop hooks and the poise to play them like they were bashed out in five minutes, any old how. (Which, incidentally, if that was true would mean we’d all be on Kylie’s speed dial and drawing Guy Chambers-level wages.) It’d be easy to dismiss their joyful noisenik fizz as a bit Busted, a bit Green Day, a bit yesterday. But hitched to Amandah’s heartbreak-riddled croon and spiked up with Taylor’s needle sharpfiddle-playing they’re proof there’s plenty to mine from the garage band coalface yet.

Scarily, for other bands, Operator Please – so professional, so complete, so cool-looking - are complicit in a sort of X-Factoring up of the credible end of the pop spectrum. In his late teens, Bowie was still to release his flop novelty single, ‘The Laughing Gnome’, Marc Bolan was a laughable acoustic hippy and Eminem a chubby kid writing dodgy rhymes during breaks from his burger-flipping shifts. Along with the Arctic Monkeys, Operator Please are proof that, these days, if you haven’t made all your buffoonish mistakes and hopeless mis-starts by the time you’ve hit 15 you’d better get out of the race, kiddo. Better bin the alco-pops and start putting some proper graft in, school-age wannabes.


The top two photos were taken by James Perou











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Commenting On: Pure Groove Records, London, 15/2/2008 - Operator Please








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