Monday, January 31, 2005

Nothing ventured, everything gained


There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but a gratis gig is another matter entirely.

Chester Road are an unapologetically hirsute three piece with an occasionally rousing line in heavy rock. Musically they’re something akin to a beefed-up gym-going Ten-era Pearl Jam, whilst as a spectacle they remind me of fearsomely loud duo Winnebago Deal. It’s only at the end of the set that they really catch everyone’s interest, though, as ‘Disarm’ gives way to an unexpected outburst of tribal drumming involving all three band members.

Needless Alley also prove mildly diverting without necessarily hinting at a brighter future. Impassioned indie rock is their thing, and they have the added bonus of a strong singer with more than a whiff of PJ Harvey about her. It’s a shame, then, that of the five songs they play one is an instrumental, and, though the two tracks which bookend the set display a laudable appreciation of how to build patiently and unravel noisily, the band don’t really do enough to distinguish themselves from the hordes of others doing this sort of thing.

Editors are in another league altogether. They’re in the middle of a UK tour, having released their debut single a few days earlier, and though I subsequently discover they're on a resurrected Geordie label, Kitchenware, and there's a Nottingham connection through guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, they're based in Birmingham so this is something of a homecoming – and it shows.

It’s a combination of jealousy and jingoism that leads us Brits to resent invasion by American bands whilst simultaneously searching frantically for their equivalents this side of the pond, and just as Interpol were first hailed as the American Joy Division, now Editors are inevitably destined to be labelled as the British Interpol.

The main reason for this is that the cap fits rather snugly. They’re more Antics than Turn On The Bright Lights, to be sure, with fast-paced drum-lines, propulsive bass, echoey guitars and bold, booming vocals. The songs are epic, but with an edge which keeps them the right side of pompous.

Acclaimed singles can all too easily become the songs which sets lead inexorably but lazily towards, but ‘Bullets’, Zane Lowe’s Single Of The Week, appears mid-set, vocalist / guitarist Tom Smith apparently rather embarrassed in precipitating mass cheers. It could become an albatross, but the embarrassment seems to come from the knowledge that it’s by no means their best song. (Since you ask, that could well be ‘Brave New World’, which closes the set.)

Overall, then, Editors are little short of a revelation, tight and seemingly primed for success. If nothing else, it'd be great for Kitchenware to get off to a good start. The last time I found myself this impressed by a new band I’d never heard or seen before was at Leeds 2003. The band? Franz Ferdinand. Just look where THEY ended up.

Of course, all this begs the question whether Editors will be able to escape from the shadow of their New York cousins. Only time will tell, but for now they’ll do just fine. You’d be well advised to watch this space...

(Thanks to Kenny and Phill for the tip-off.)

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