Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Crystal Tips

The NME/Top Man New Noise Tour feat. Crystal Castles/Friendly Fires/Team Waterpolo, Carling Academy 2, Birmingham, Thursday May 8 2008, 8pm.

Due to your tut-tutting tinker's train being delayed by 35 minutes the first act of four tonight is missed. To sum up then - White Lies: don't do it.

Perhaps in deference to the demographic chased by the tour sponsors it's a young crowd tonight, resulting in a weird permeating smell of spearmint and germolene, and a youth behind your Fila-footed faffer stamping his feet in indignation that he's the only one present 'wearing normal Adidas'. Mind, the band's aren't much older these days, judging on Team Waterpolo's appearance, who confidently launch into their own welcoming, self-referencing nu-metal anthem. They prove difficult to pigeon-hole however, with emo, fraggle and sun-kissed pop amongst the strings to their bow. Think PWEI. Think The Wonderstuff. Think Silver Sun. Think The Pigeon Detectives. Then stop thinking for a bit because your head will be hurting, and just smile along to the blissful harmonising.

For those of you who are gnashing at the bit for some new material by The Rapture, Friendly Fires may just be your favourite new band. For the rest of us, their energy, attitude and enthusiasm may only get them so far in persuading us their inspiration is equal to their perspiration. They serve their purpose in generating some heat before the main band comes on, but will need to find some more distinctive tinder in their box if they're to be considered genuinely flamin' groovy.

Crystal Castles have no such difficulty leaving a distinctive mark, lead singer Alice announcing 'We Are The Top Man' before launching herself into the audience and belting out the stand-out numbers from their excellent debut album while lit up by constantly flashing strobe lighting effects. They bring a new musical hybrid to town, with the euphoric rush of rave music blending with anxious jittery post-punk vox from Alice, for all the world looking like a whirling dervish wildchild of Sid Vicious and Gaye Advert. The effect is like Karen O fronting Justice, supplying instant pop thrills and an amphetamine edge but subtly tempered with a fuzz of MDMA wellbeing for a smooth in-built comedown.

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