Monday, February 21, 2005

Three Is A Tragic Number

The Departure/Cherubs/Apartment, Birmingham Carling Academy 2, Thursday February 17 2005.

With last month's single and live shows Editors were hot off the presses to get brand recognition as the British Interpol. Tonight's gig represents a showcase for three other pretenders to the crown of thorns, as well as for Xfm's new availability on FM for the Brum conurbation. Which explains John Kennedy's appearance as MC to introduce the bands and plug, plug, plug the necessary waveband details. Kennedy's Xposure show is arguably the best programme currently for breaking new indie acts in the wake of Peel's untimely demise, although he does come over on air at times like a middle-aged trendy vicar - surprising, then, that in the flesh he looks much younger than your humble correspondent, albeit a bit chubbier. Perhaps Kennedy's lost his love of life, too much apple pie, etc.

First band on are Apartment, who've recently released their debut single on Fierce Panda called 'Everyone Thinks I'm Paranoid'. But just because everyone thinks you're paranoid doesn't mean that the majors aren't out to get you, and I suspect the band knows this as they throw outrageous stadium-rock shapes despite what is at this early stage in proceedings a half-full arena. The lead singer's got the looks and the guitarist's got the hooks so there's no reason why Apartment shouldn't make lots of money. The fact that their first single is their least impressive song confirms my suspicion that this is a band you should make room in your dark, twisted hearts for.

Cherubs are an Anglo-Norwegian band that have something in common with the other two bands but in truth, with their more basic riffs and catchy tunes owe as much to The Hives and Franz Ferdinand as they do to Interpol, with lead singer Staale's haircut definitely owing royalties to Alex Kapranos' stylist. They put on an entertaining enough show amidst some strong competition but relatively speaking I feel less engaged by their material, although if one of their more infectious numbers gets radio playlisting they could yet steal a march on their more credible contemporaries. A free download of their new single (out next week) 'Club Hoola Hoop's Walls' is available for a limited period only over at NME.

Northampton's The Departure lounge about for forty minutes before coming on stage, and there's no complimentary newspapers either, but despite this they are warmly received by what it has to be said is an incredibly young audience who are mostly all pissed as farts by this point. The lead singer is, in truth, more of a Jim Kerr than an Ian Curtis, but he's certainly not short of confidence, looking far more pleased with himself than any vocalist in a dark, serious rock band ought to. Their singles to date, 'Be My Enemy' and 'All Mapped Out' are both despatched relatively early, again a sign of confidence in their other material which is largely borne out by a strong, energetic and tuneful set. Not that half of the audience are paying much attention at this stage as avoiding several low-flying teenagers becomes the priority mission of the day. Their new single (Lump In My Throat), though, out April 4th, does manage to leave a lasting impression and if it is a case of last man standing between these bands come the end of the year, then The Departure may yet defy the odds and stand toe-to-toe with their 'room-mates' Apartment until the final countdown.

On my way out of the venue, I bump into Ben and Jenni who whisk me off to the Sunflower Lounge for a quick pint before my train arrives. Free entry and a late bar make it a good diversion, and downstairs there's a 20s/30s theme with several studenty types jitterbugging the night away against a period porn backdrop. All very seductively decadent entertainment, therefore, but after spotting someone looking like Fatty Arbuckle in the corner, and vividly remembering James Ivory's The Wild Party (1975), I decide to get my coat and leave B&J to the recquisite flappin' and firkin'.



Post a Comment

<< Home