Shepherd's Bush Empire
SUCH WAS the sparse nature of 's sound that they had their work cut out just making themselves heard. in the same way that artists appropriate empty space in galleries, utilised silence in order to make their mark. But unlike art enthusiasts who will bend over backwards to comprehend what is before them, gig-goers are a less patient breed. Sadly, the chatter of the crowd drowned out 's understated musings and their most low-key moments were largely ignored. The bashfulness of singer Paul Anderson's between-songs patter simply reinforced the idea that the action at the bar was more interesting than what was happening on stage. It was a shame, since 's debut album Heavy Black Frame is packed with balmy instrumentals and songs that combine the moody alt.country of Smog and Bonnie "Prince" Billy with the contemplative tones of Nick Drake. But 's melancholy ruminations seemed limp in the sweaty confines of the Garage, and you longed for the stillness of a sitting room for full effect.
A stark contrast then to Remy Zero, an Alabama five-piece who managed to incorporate three decades of bloke rock into a 45-minute set. One moment they were reaching dizzy heights in rock balladry, the next they were strutting about the stage spewing Bowie-esque glam anthems. They may have been playing to a bunch of students, but their stage presence suggested that they had stadium-sized venues in mind. The band created an exhilarating sound comprising squally guitars and evocative keyboards complete with vocals that cut between a tectonic rumble and a hysterical squeal.
If hype is anything to go by, Groove Armada are next in line (after Basement Jaxx, of course) for that illustrious title, the Sound of the Summer. Andy Cato and Tom Findlay's latest single, "If Everybody Looked the Same", is certainly worthy of a few hands-in-the-air moments and their second LP contains a handful of dancefloor-fillers that will be played to death by Radio 1 as soon as the sun comes out. Live, though, they are barely recognisable as the same band. The laid-back funk of their recorded material was transformed into acid jazz-style noodling, worsened by an ineffectual brass section and a "guest" singer who seemed to have modelled himself on George Michael. With shows like this they are more likely to end up on Melody FM than Radio 1.