Gig Review

Plus Electric City
Bristol, Anston Rooms
1st December 2007

Orson               Electric City

Every time I’m in the Anson Rooms I can’t help but think it looks like a school hall. When we first arrived, there wasn’t a great deal of people about so we were able to stand right at the barrier. When Electric City took to the stage they were a mingle of skinny jeans, long fringes and rugged manliness. They had a kind of self-assured confidence about them as they launched into their first song. Their sound was a smooth mix of indie with electro tones and punchy choruses. Apart from the front man, Andy J. Taylor, there was minimal movement from the band who merely sashayed their hips in time with the music. But this just seemed to fit with their cool, edgy, indie sound. When I had read that in the past they had supported acts such as We Are Scientists and The Futureheads I expected big things. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Electric City have had one single out to date entitled ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’. When they performed the song it was saturated with digital melodies and raspy vocals. As the song reached the chorus, Taylor’s voice sounded like pure, well, filth and I loved it. One of my favourite songs of the night had to be their self-titled song ‘Electric City’. The band has a trademark of electro infused, placid verses which build to an exciting climax and it was definitely present in this song, especially with the chants of ‘Electric City, Electric City!’ during the bridge. As they play, bassist, Jonny Bullit, looks like he’s in some kind of music trance and his gaze never falters. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Taylor, meanwhile looks like he’s constantly having a good time. The crowd reaction is not overtly receptive but the regular calls of recognition between songs seemed to show some form of appreciation. Overall, the band’s rock-and-roll is effortlessly cool, funk-tastic and a pleasure to listen to. I tried all night to think of a band to compare Electric City to, but couldn’t. To me, they had their own crafted sound, which is always a positive thing.

Waiting for Orson to come on, I couldn’t help but think I’d never really been a huge fan of the band, but I remained open-minded. ‘Goldfinger’ by Shirley Bassey preceded their entrance to the stage which helped to hype up the crowd. Then each member of the band took to the stage in turn and I have to say, I have never seen such an eclectic mix of people in one band before. Orson look as if they’d been part of one of America’s talent shows that throw middle-aged members of the public together. Apart from the lead man, Jason Pebworth, we had a shy and reserved guitar player going by the name of George Astasio, who never spoke and barely moved, guitarist and vocalist, Kevin Roentgen, who was dinky and heavily tattooed and a guitarist who looked like he aspired to be an older member of Fall Out Boy. Then we had the drummer, who looked like the spitting image of Borat. But despite these observations, the band just seemed to “fit” together. The Fall Out Boy-esque bassist exuded a huge amount of energy which actually had my attention for most of the set mainly due to the lack of movement any of the other members of the band displayed. Then of course, the front man, who was definitely the band’s glue. Apart from the fact I never glimpsed his eyes from his low-pulled trilby hat, he had a presence about him, and even for the songs I wasn’t a fan of, his voice never had an absence of power.

Now I’m not going to lie, before I saw Orson perform, I hadn’t heard any other songs apart from the singles they have released including ‘Bright Idea’, ‘Happiness’, ‘Already Over’ and their most recent release ‘Ain’t No Party’. And of course, the one that absolutely everyone knows and loved ‘No Tomorrow’. Apart from ‘Bright Idea’, I was a fan of all of their singles and each of them transcended really well to a live performance. ‘Happiness’ is a song that has sexy riffs in each verse and a soaring build to the call of ‘Happiness’ in the chorus. It was just that, a happy, feel-good song which seemed to have the whole crowd smiling. One of my favourites of the night had to be ‘Already Over’, a tender love-song which conveys a love which has come to an end. This is when Pebworth’s voice is at its most beautiful as he sings the heartfelt chorus. Both ‘Ain’t No Party’ and ‘No Tomorrow’ were the obvious party starters of the band’s set and they got the crowd bopping around manically and definitely had the best reception of the night. Orson have an ability to produce catchy, melodic pop-based songs which are usually a crowd-pleaser, regardless of whether it’s your music of choice. Along with their singles, Orson showcased a few songs from their newest album ‘Culture Vultures’ including the tracks ‘Broken Watch’ and ‘Gorgeous’, but quite frankly, these songs soared right over my head. They just didn’t seem to have that “wow” factor that tracks from their debut album had. Pleasant, and easy-listening, but just nothing special that would make me go back for more.

One of my favourite moments of watching Orson had to be when they dropped the pace during the first song of their encore when they performed ‘Look Around’ from their first album, ‘Bright Idea’. The stage consisted of Pebworth on vocals and the Kevin Roentgen on an acoustic guitar and the song was so gentle and soft that it had me entranced. So as the band closed the evening with ‘No Tomorrow’, I was actually mildly impressed. I had a preconception that Orson could only churn out pop songs which were nothing more than okay, but after seeing them perform, the effort they put into every song and the contrast of sugar-sweet love songs and up-beat pop classics definitely made up for those tracks that I had forgotten about by the next day.

Review By Fiona


Jason Pebworth (vocals)
George Astasio (guitar)
Kevin Roentgen (guitar, vocals)
Johnny Lonely (bass)
Chris Cano (drums)
 Electric City

Andy J. Taylor (vocals, guitar)
James Cantone (lead guitar)
Dan Laithwaite (drums)
Jonny Bullit (bass guitar)
 Band Related Links
Orson Myspace
Electric City Myspace
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?