The Ting Tings have been away from the limelight for a while, but that doesn't explain why their fans now resemble the middle-aged crowd at a Bon Jovi gig.
After nearly four years since their first album We Started Nothing was released in 2008, Jules de Martino and Katie White have finally released a new album, Sounds from Nowheresville, which came out this week. It appears to attract a more mature audience than their early, energetic pop hits.
"We're obviously not the most prolific writers, but we got there in the end," says White, acknowledging the long wait. The new sound is more diverse than before. 'Bang it Up' evokes the playground chant of their earlier music, but 'Hands', their 2010 single, mixed by Calvin Harris, has been re-worked as a thumping trance track tonight. It sounds like a number of different Ibiza club hits, but there's nothing original. The same can be said for the new pop number, 'Hit me down, Sonny' where White shouts, "Did you ever think you'd see me like this" at least 100 times. White's vocals are most comfortable expressing a whiny sort of anger, like a child throwing a tantrum, which often works well, but in 'We Walk' – another 2008 single – her voice becomes sweet and soothing in the initial harmonies. With its elegant piano intro and catchy, danceable chorus it's a reminder of why we used to love them. When they sing, "We've got the choice, if it all goes wrong we walk" one wonders how long it will be until they take that option.
White and de Martino have good chemistry. As she frolics and head bangs her way across the stage, he looks on, bemused and sharing smiles with her. White is particularly energetic tonight, she drags her bass with her and enters the crowd, grinning, and when she's not encumbered by an instrument she touches her toes and almost bunny-hops along the stage. Even she seems mildly infuriated by the audience, though. Introducing 'Hands' she says, "All we ask is that you f***ing dance". We muster a soft-shoe shuffle.
'That's Not My Name', the Ting Tings' number one single from 2008, is played at the end of the set and judging by the sea of shifting polo-neck jumpers and bobbing bald patches, this seems to be what the crowd have been waiting for. But its punchy, catchy, pop-rock sound only serves to underline what their new work is lacking.