Sunday, June 17, 2007

Room On Fire

Apartment/51 Breaks, Bar Academy, Birmingham, Wednesday June 13 2007.

It's been a good while since your correspondent has ventured into Bar Academy but it only takes a few steps into the venue before there's a reminder of the huge wall of heat that greets you there in the summertime, even when half-full. Is it really too much to ask Carling to churn some of their lager profits into an investment in a huge fuck-off fan like they have at The Cockpit in Leeds? Dead Kenny is in serious danger of meltin' away. MELTIN' AWAY, I tells ya!

But instead of an ice-cream van, we get support act 51 Breaks. Your correspondent saw these four Birmingham lads at a Different Kettle Of Fish gig a couple of years back (see here for the full review) but in truth we don't remember that much about them, and first impressions bring the thermostat back down to lukewarm. Yet even though this puts your sweltering hack of a mind to be fairly dismissive, the band have a knack of producing an intriguing hook or energising change of pace just often enough to hold the interest. They're the sonic equivalent of Kajagoogoo, The Milltown Brothers and the E-Street Band sharing the same sauna towel, and even though they're a little too poppy and lightweight to find full favour in the Parallax View editorial office, they seem pretty, malleable and tuneful enough to tempt a record company to invest. Judging from the response from some excited females in the audience, it could prove a shrewd move.

By contrast, your scribe made immediate room in his heart for Apartment on first acquaintance with the group when they showed up bottom of the bill at an XFM showcase gig with The Departure headlining (see here for the full Parallax View report). Our interest hasn't wavered since, despite an enormous gestation period for their fine debut album 'The Dreamer Evasive' by which time their buzz has cooled to a low refrigerator hum. They start off immediately with their best-known number 'Everyone Thinks I'm Paranoid' although things really come to life with the arresting opening chords of 'My Brother Chris' while other highlights include a brooding cover of 'Crazy'; the marching pomp of '10000 Times' and the final wigout of 'Beyond My Control'.

And yet, for all the impressive renditions of their superb set of songs, there's something missing tonight from that first time experience a few years back. Although not without confidence or charm, there's a definite lack of swagger about them tonight. Like ex sex, the moves are still there, but the light behind the eyes has gone. Perhaps it's the impact of a third of the audience disappearing at the end of local favourites 51 Breaks' set, or wider still a recognition that for all their brilliance, things have gone a little flat for the band and maybe Apartment's time has gone. With singer David Caggiari forced to make an online denial recently about a possible split amidst rumours of solo diversions, your correspondent has a very real fear that unless the record-buying public are enormously careful there is a serious danger of Apartment becoming one of the great lost bands of the decade, with the soaring tunes and decadent glamour of The Dreamer Evasive left as one of the era's most potent secrets.



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