On doing some pre-gig research for Monday’s show, we discovered that the opening act, Worship, are classed by last.fm as “doom metal”. It doesn’t sound very promising, does it? We were expecting beards, and not the good kind. Imagine our surprise when Worship turned out to be three skinny indie lads from Reading and apparently not the band referred to on Last.fm. We were even more surprise when they turned out to be kind of brilliant. Imagine if HIM mated with White Lies and spawned a kind of weird electro, metal, funeral dirge baby. I think their sound could best be described as mesmeric and I can’t argue with The Guardian’s description, ‘sounds like a sonic cathedral.’ I suppose the only concern is that they’ve potentially stuck themselves with a bit of a naff name and they might need better stage banter than, “We’re selling vinyl. We don’t know where it is.”
So with the unusual occurrence of a brilliant opening act we expected great and wonderful things from Head Automatica. It appeared that Head Automatica also expected great and wonderful things from the audience. Unfortunately they decided to play a set comprised almost entirely of songs from an album they recorded but never released in 2009. Consequently it was material that was very familiar to the band but completely unfamiliar to the crowd, leaving both sides increasingly more frustrated with every song. It might have worked if the new material was electrifying but it all spiralled off into some kind of Howard Moon-esque 80’s jazz trance that was almost unlistenable.
To add insult to injury,when they did decide to play known material they went for unusual arrangements that rendered the original songs almost unrecognisable. For the most part the new arrangements were… ponderous. The Razor was brilliant. Beating Heart Baby was a disatrous. Half way through people started walking out, much to Daryl Palumbo’s evident disgust. It was genuinely one of the most bizarre and self-indulgent gigs I’ve ever been to and from the post-gig twitter comments, the feeling was shared by most of the audience. When a band performs only for their own entertainment, they can’t be annoyed when the audience fails to be entertained. Somehow I can’t imagine we’re going to see Head Automatica back in London anytime soon or that anyone will care.
After waiting almost a year for the rescheduled London dates heralding the return of infamous pop punk legends, Blink-182, I think it’s fair to say that the atmosphere in the O2 was electric on Friday night.
We were unfortunate enough to find our seats in the highest of nose bleeds, which didn’t do much for my vertigo. I’m convinced it’s not entirely safe up there. We were comfortably early so we got to see Four Year Strong open. It’s a well-known fact that venues never put the good sound on for bottom billers and in a venue as cavernous as the O2, it really shows. The band seemed to be getting a pretty good response to their energetic brand of pop punk but the very back of the Arena was not the best place to get to know a band you don’t already have a strong feel for. With that in mind I can’t really comment on the strength of the performance. It was like watching ants jump and down in the far distance.
Second up were The All American Rejects, who I do know a lot better having seen them headline twice. They benefit not only from having a hearty back catalogue of radio hits but also an extremely charismatic front man in Tyson Ritter. I’ll admit that I found the new material a bit boring but I couldn’t resist a singalong to Swing Swing or Dirty Little Secret or a giggle when Ritter went off on a tangent about the people in the private boxes. I’ve sat there… it’s not that great. Overall a solid performance, worthy of the positive response from the audience apart from one guy slightly in front of us, who booed throughout. Probably the type who bottles people at festivals.
What can one say about Blink? After a five year hiatus, I think I half expected them to come back Green Day style and explode in an American Idiot kind of way. Unfortunately unlike Green Day the members of Blink genuinely appear to hate each other… well Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge anyway. If you’ve hung out with a couple who are about to break-up, you’ve probably got a good idea of what the onstage vibe was like, with both front men hurling thinly veiled barbs at each other. It wasn’t that they played badly, it was just an extremely uncomfortable experience. Their early material relies heavily on dick and fart jokes, which was funny when they were twenty-three (as the song says) but with all three pushing forty, it’s a bit tragic watching them trying to capture a level of silliness unbecoming to husbands and fathers. The new material and the songs from their eponymous final pre-split album fare better but when the overriding feeling is that the light show was great, I think things have gone wrong. I suppose one can hope that they’ll get over their differences and create something epic but I think it’s relatively unlikely.
Last night Lyndon and I went to see Wolfmother at Brixton Academy and had our proverbial socks rocked off. Bursting onto the stage with a version of Dimension that threatened to propel the entire audience into a new dimension, the band played with the kind of reverence needed to do their The Who meets Hendrix meets The Doors 70’s psychedelic sound justice. Andrew Stockdale, the only surviving member of the original line-up, has a voice so big it defies being recorded. It’s a voice that has to be heard live to be appreciated in it’s full magnitude.
And although he is epic to watch, it’s bassist/keyboardist Ian Peres, living up to the stereotype in his floral flares, who draws the eye. He plays keys as if he’s attempting beat his instrument to death and borders on defying physics by managing to play both the guitar and the keys at once… plus his afro is bigger. Hell, by the end of the show even I wanted an afro.
The highlight was the encore, Guitar Hero theme, The Joker & The Thief, which was what we were all waiting for when Woman popped up about five songs in. I was so inspired that I cranked my ipod and danced all the way on my walk home. In hindsight with my silver boots on, there’s a good chance I looked like Noel Fielding having some kind of fit… but, hey… fuck the neighbours. I couldn’t have asked for a better gigging start to 2010.