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
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