If there is one thing I detest about gigs then it has to be those pesky-in unison-crowd-pleasing handclaps that make me cringe and wince with embarrassment, and for some godforsaken reason, Athlete, have mastered this to a T. However, the charming surroundings of Somerset House cleansed my mind beforehand and I was gladly anticipating what was in store for me. This feeling was slightly dispelled when Athlete took to the stage with not one, not two, but three shambolic false starts.
"That was meant to be an amazing intro – but least it's not raining!" jests singer Joel Pott. Ahem. Pushing those mishaps aside, Athlete launch into a new song, "Superhuman Touch", with big synths and emphatic guitars, declaring a new sound for a group once seen as the hand-me-downs of the Coldplay generation, and pursuing a comeback style reflecting that of Keane's "Spiralling".
The band are clearly in transformation, perhaps necessarily so when the middle-of-the-road melodies that were their stock-in-trade have failed to draw in the huge following and stadium status many predicted for them. Saying that, however, "Hot in Here", is an audience pleaser, yet is a far cry from what they are now apparently trying to become. However, the jaunty lyrics and the big chorus satisfy the fortysomethings who have turned up in search of some singalong gaiety.
Pott dedicates a new song off the forthcoming album, Black Swan, to his grandad for his "triumphant life and death" – a surely poignant moment. Unfortunately not everyone felt the same and it prompted many punters to visit the bar – a common protocol when the slow tempos kick in.
The second half of the show is definitely more animated and thankfully it even offers traces of excitement that involve both band and audience alike, though the latter's increased involvement could, perhaps, have something to do with frequent trips to the watering hole.
Towards the end of "Tourist" there is an interval of what I can only describe as misplaced rave, and the ironically-titled "Rock Scene" gets the crowd's lungs in working order whilst summoning dancing from the entire audience.Reuse content