Whether by chance or design, tonight's warm-up DJ sums up the band that emerged from Surrey's commuter belt, first with a rousing house remix of The Who's "Baba O'Reilly", then the funky theme from a lager advert. They can cleverly combine reggae, dance beats and rock guitars, though tend to hide their creativity under a bushel aimed at beered-up small-mindedness.
Yet this finale promises a upturn in fortunes after an underwhelming tour that has seen one Glasgow date cancelled and the Liverpool leg downgraded to smaller premises. Frontman Richard Archer's presence and self-belief breathe life into Hard-Fi's mundane tales and, like some hip-hop mogul, he not only takes writing credits, but also a co-producer title on current album Once Upon a Time in the West. If Sergio Leone's similarly titled film adds an epic quality to the Western, so Archer has given the group's trademark terrace anthems a widescreen vision.
Pick of the bunch is the sarcastic "Television" with a poppy, light-on-its-feet chorus that shows Archer looking beyond the high streets and precincts to find a focus for his frustration. In a similar vein comes "I Shall Overcome", which showcases his band's ear for workable fusions of indie rock with contemporary dance genres.
Otherwise, the group's turgid reggae-tinged rock remains anonymous, leaving them to rely on over-used wordless chants. When Archer does concentrate on getting his point across, he just about gets away with it, and is especially engaging on the quietly effective "Help Me Please", a tender ballad inspired by his dying mother. It is rare respite from the relentless desire to encourage the audience to sing and clap, though they eagerly respond to every command. Surrey's answer to Bon Jovi? It is an option, but a fate Hard-Fi could still avoid.
For a group banned from a motel chain for on-tour shenanigans, this is a low-key night for The View. The Dundee foursome run through album highlights and drop clues to their next direction without incident or drama, perhaps to their own relief, for since the band emerged late last year, they have had a habit of making more headlines than music. A little unpleasantness in the States has caused frontman Kyle Falconer to have his US visa revoked, so instead of cracking the States, The View have made headway in Europe and returned to celebrate an otherwise triumphant year. These former school friends have found a middle ground between Libertines' wide-eyed romanticism and Oasis's sturdy lad rock template so successfully that, at the beginning of the year, debut album Hats Off to the Buskers reached No 1 and saw the band on to the Mercury Prize short list.
Much of The View's attraction is down to their ability to spin yarns about characters from their environs. Question is, are The View finding their comfort zone too easily?Reuse content