Melody Maker | Live | 25 October 1985
Fetcham Riverside Club, Leatherhead
Cardiacs offer nothing less than a complete package. Sealed and delivered, though yet to be signed, this is heart attack rock taken to its final conclusion. Bruised, life-sized action dolls, they carry hideously painted faces – bloody mouths, black eyes, white flesh – and dusty reject Sally Army uniforms. Out front, a delirious ghoul with a square head struts and stares and shouts.
The idea is pursued to the Nth degree. Musically, Cardiacs are in tune with the heartbeat. Start/stop. They trace an arc running through early Genesis to Devo and The Piranhas, taking in a hundred annoying bands. From lurching anthems to knees-up ska pop, the underlying feature is either start and stop or startstop. Sometimes it's irritating, like the ticking of a loud clock. Sometimes it's downright bloody painful, like violent hiccups. Sometimes the theatrics banish it to a state of irrelevance.
Live, Cardiacs purvey almost undiluted entertainment. They'll probably make terrific videos. But before they become radio stars, they'll have to undergo major surgery.