Palladium, Barfly, London
If you were around in the 1970s and the 1980s, the recent success of The Feeling, Mika and The Hoosiers has probably been an irritant. Their songs have taken the airwaves by storm, but their brand of retro-pop makes it too easy to play "spot the lift" from a guilty-pleasure blast from the past. Palladium may just be the exception to the rule. The British four-piece draw on the same decades for inspiration but are as good as the artists they're inspired by: Todd Rundgren, Steely Dan, The Police, Toto, and even Yes in their "Owner of a Lonely Heart" pomp. More crucially, Palladium never sound like they're feeding off the corpse of the past.
From the heady opener, "Midnight Service", to the winning encore of "Happy Hour", Palladium also exude a confidence that makes the odd sartorial faux pas forgivable, though the goofy sun visor sported sideways by their classically trained keyboard player, Rufio Sandilands, has to go. Their forthcoming single, "White Lady", has the bassist and vocalist, Peter Pepper, cockily predicting that he is going to get the girl, while the impossibly tall guitarist, Rostas Fez, makes like Steve Vai or Eddie Van Halen on the dramatic chord changes. With his streaky-blond feather cut, the drummer Rocky Morris (you may have gathered that the band don't use their real names), looks like a spare member of Duran Duran, but soon discards his beige jacket to thunder away like Phil Collins. The jerky "Greatest Dancer" reminds me of early XTC, but Palladium use their impeccable musicianship to put across catchy songs such as "Get It Right" and its dizzying middle eight.
Best of a very good bunch is the widescreen pop of "Miracles", with its sinuous, Police-like verse and big chorus, which cries out for a lighter-waving moment. The 50-50 male-to-female ratio crowd in the Barfly pick up on this and clap their hands accordingly. "High 5", a record of the week on Edith Bowman's show on Radio 1 recently, makes the most of Pepper's vocal register. When he's not plucking his five-string Fender bass, he waves his hands and rolls his eyes, endearingly acting out the song's lyrics as he goes into a falsetto. The one-song encore ends too soon, leaving everyone wanting more and keen to catch the group on their forthcoming headline tour.
Touring to 16 February (www.palladiumofficial.com)
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