The View, Astoria, London
Tuesday 02 December 2008
The View's February follow-up to their Mercury-nominated debut Hats Off to the Buskers, Which Bitch, includes moments of delicate ambition that most of their indie peers can't match. This London date is part of a tour otherwise replicating the trawl through less-heralded venues that built the then-teenage Dundee band's support in 2006. But tonight, the youthful fun has worn off. Disaffection infects the music.
It starts with a portentous classical intro, white light flaring in the dark, bassist Kieren Webster reintroducing himself to "the Big Smoke", and the subtle lyrics and whispered harmonies of new song "Glass Smash". But by the time they strike up the recent ignored single "5Rebeccas", real cans and flasks of drink are flying in. When one bursts flush on singer Kyle Falconer's guitar, he admirably doesn't miss a beat. Maybe this is when their sourness with a crowd apparently happy to electrocute them sets in.
But there are deeper problems. The undercarriage of The View's sound, built on the heavy rumble of Steve Morrison's drums, is hugely influenced by Oasis. Happily they play the sort of unapologetic hard rock we won't see again from the Gallaghers, an unrelenting sound owing more to punk than Britpop. This matches the careless, tearaway spirit that is the best thing about them. Producer Owen Morris can harness that in the studio, but tonight they sometimes just fall apart. On "One-off Pretender", each member ploughs in parallel directions. When they switch tempo mid-song, the band shake as if about to careen off a corner.
This heavy sound barely shifts from song to song, until Falconer and Webster sit to play acoustic guitars. Focusing on Falconer's high, grainy voice and Webster's harmonies gets the night's biggest cheer. At such times, Falconer's breezy strum and singing recall George Formby's sweet optimism.
"Anybody here from Scotland?" Webster asks before "Realisation", getting a less conclusive cheer than in the days when travelling support from their Dryburgh neighbourhood followed them round. Webster then seems to blurt out something about "the realisation that you'll always love us more than we love you". Intended humour barely disguises a harsh mood that spills into the downhill roar of "Shock Horror". They finish with their biggest hit, "Superstar Tradesman", a big, booming trashing of everything in the song but its spirit. After barely an hour, it's over, leaving a mood of sour frustration.
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