Gig Review

The NME Rock N Roll Tour
The Automatic, The View, The Horrors
Southampton, Guildhall
16th February 2007

The Automatic     The View              The Horrors    

The first band on this evening were Mumm-Ra. I can't really comment on their performance, as I heard a distinctly muffled version, as I was sat on a backstage basement stairwell with Alex Pennie of the Automatic. So that was that.

Upon passing back through to the main room, we decided to stop at the side of the stage, and giggled childishly as we peered over the giant stage, and out into the sea of fans crushed up against the barrier. In an interview a few weeks before, the bassist of Talula had spoken of how it felt to be waiting next to the stage before the manager calls for lights down, and the crowd in the darkness scream with excitement; and now I was about to find out what he meant. Four fifths of the Horrors were stood next to us as the lights went down and they walked out onto the stage, and red light rose. I had shivers, and I had nothing to do with the band. Shortly after, the front-man Faris walked in, as if he'd been dragged through a hedge backwards, and strutted on stage.

For those of you who don't know, The Horrors are a gothic-punk-screamo band who act and dress exactly like the music they create. Slightly erratic, unique, and altogether crazy. From side-stage I could see the organist dancing from the waist down, as you do when restricted to to a keyboard, the bassist stood facing his amp (as he remained all gig,) and over the far side, the guitarist spinning around, flicking his legs out here and there, with his gravity defying black and bleach blond hair bobbing about.

Amongst this, Faris strutted from the drum kit, to centre stage, past the monitors to the very front gazing out into the crowd, and back again. And this seemed to be about it. There stage-show consisted of nothing more than this movement, “spooky” (yet effective) lighting, and music that was, well, interesting. Heavy bass lines, organ chordage, hellish screaming and some wacky noises thrown in for good measure, the Horrors are definitely one of a kind.

From side stage, you could hear everything perfectly, whereas from out in the main room, everything combined into one bassy tangle. But we wanted a pint or two, so headed out into the main room before The View came on.

The View are a shaggy-haired foursome from Scotland, and I don't know what it is, but there's something about Scottish bands that mean you can instantly guess where they're from. I really can't put my finger on it, but they have this sound. And yeah, the View have it. But it's worked for previous bands, so why not. A poppy version of the Fratellis. The lead vocalist having a very boyish high pitched voice. Yeah I think that sums them up, no offence meant. I like the Fratellis.

Well they played well, they just didn't do much. As opposed to the Horrors doing the same thing over and over, the View did nothing over and over. But the music was upbeat and good fun, and the crowd agreed unanimously. Fists held high wielding glow sticks, rocking out to the catchy rhythms, and cheers of “the View are on fire!” between songs, they were going down a treat. The singer would announce songs and say God knows what else, but his accent and bad acoustics meant nobody could really hear a word. The guitarist took over the vocals for a few tracks, he however, sung with a stronger Scottish accent; interesting. But I'm not sure what else to say, they just played what they had to play, and played it well.

The headlining band, The Automatic, were unfortunately, not going to offer much more.

They came on, and again, played what they had to play. And besides the singles, everything sounded vaguely similar. In an interview earlier, Alex Pennie had mentioned he thought the album had been made to poppy, as opposed to rocky. And I think here tonight, they were trying to be more rocky, but it wasn't working. Well that's a lie, I think Pennie was. He plays the keyboard and provides the screeches in the background, and obviously when the keys aren't played, he needs something to do. So he chooses to run around the stage, with a microphone, cow bell, tambourine, or nothing at all. Right up to the front of the stage, shouting into the crowd, swinging the microphone around, jumping about, and going nuts. Basically, he looked like the lead role of a screamo band, and where the rest of the band were just stood at their microphones, it looked like he was trying to steal the limelight. And that's what visually didn't work. If they were all going nuts it could have been a stupidly good performance, if they'd all stood in their spot and occasionally jazzed it up, then that would have been good, but this crazy mix wasn't working.

However in one song, the lead role was his, partially. They did a cover of a Talking Heads song, and he sat up on a monitor and sang his parts. Not screamo, shock horror, genuine singing.

Sound wise, yeah, great. Besides everything sounding the same, it was all played well and surprisingly, the vocal line sounded identical to the CD. Seriously, that shows a good vocalist if you can pull that one off, well done.

And that's about it. Predictably, the crowd jumped about to the classics of Monster and Raoul, and generally enjoyed the performance I think, then again I can't really go speaking for everyone. I did notice however, that between The View and The Automatic, a lot of people had left.

So I don't know. I'm really undecided what I thought of the performance, but something visually wasn't right; hopefully they'll move on from this if they get their way with a rockier second album.

Review By Thom

 The Automatic

Rob (Vocals, Bass)
Frost (Guitar, Vocals)
Iwan (Drums, Falsetto)
Paul (Guitar, Vocals)
 The View

Kyle Falconer (Rhythm guitar, Vocals)
Kieren Webster (Bass, Vocals)
Pete Reilly (Lead Guitar)
Steven Morrison (Drums)
 The Horrors

Faris Rotter (Vocals)
Joshua Third (Guitar)
Tomethy Furse (Bass)
Spider Webb (Combo organ)
Coffin Joe (Drums)
 Band Related Links
The Automatic Myspace
The View Myspace
The Horrors Myspace
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?