An informant at the door advised me that only just over four hundred punters had actually splashed the cash to come along to this gig. And inside, indeed, was the smallest audience I’ve seen to date at The Academy. The balcony was closed and the mezzanine very sparsely populated. This however allowed the happy gigster to wander more freely than usual, exploring the venue for different views and acoustic sweet spots.
At 8:20 the Bhanghra Chill Out CD is slowly muted, the lights begin to dim and a four piece band shimmy onto their individual podia. A few bars of intro and suddenly he’s there…….
It’s Spinal Tap meets The Omega Man, as the band quickly turn the amps up to eleven and a Matthias-like hooded TR sings his way through the opener. Difficult to hear him above the welcoming cheers!
The band, despite it’s members’ various pedigrees, consists of four fairly anonymous journeymen whose collective wardrobe was seemingly inspired by watching one too many episodes of Mr Benn. An over lengthy selection of tunes from the new album then ensued. It’s relentlessness was broken only by a fairly faithful cover of The Quiet One’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’
It’s a brave decision to be so thrawn in the face of a crowd who are hungry to digest a crumb or two of familiarity.
The new album’s title track Liars, closing the first section of the two hour show, however, is a fierce, big industrial bugger. Sounding like Nine Inch Nails on steroids, this tune alone persuaded me to go out the next day and buy it, so to that end the gig was a success.
After an hour, a brief brace of solo acoustic songs then gives the band time to slip out of the panto threads and into some dapper white suits.
This costume change was followed an anodyne ‘Green Onions’ complete with the ubiquitous drum solo – this was not so much Booker T, more like lukewarm tea. If your average wedding band played this, as poorly, you would seriously consider reviewing their performance fee!
Anyone who seriously enjoyed this low point really ought to get out more often!!!
Coming on thereafter, dressed in a suit that must surely have been a deckchair in a previous life, Todd, with his bleached hair askew, now quite seriously resembled Beetlejuice as he crooned his way through what sounded like Hall & Oates at their most self indulgent and banal.
More than a few of the punters around me groaned dissent as they looked at their watches. This section unsurprisingly coincided with the bar queues being at their longest.
Overall the sound was good and loud (not necessarily always the same thing) and his singing superb.
The much heralded innovative lights, I’m afraid, amounted to little more than what you would see at any sixth form disco and the accompanying small gazebo structures lent a rather surreal edge to the evening, it was as if you were watching a band performing in the lighting department of B&Q
Late on in the set, Initiation’s ‘Born to Synthesize’ was drastically re-worked showing us what more of the evening could, perhaps, have been like.
Five out of Ten, must try harder!