Friday, 20 November 2009

743 THE AUTOMATIC, Viva Machine, Gloucester Guildhall Arts Centre, Thursday 3 April 2008

After this lot of Welsh reprobates blew the doors off with their mighty performance on last year's NME tour, we were keen to see if this was a real live act to hang your hat on, or whether that was a one-off and they just seemed that good due to poor company (The View!). So Rach spotted this tour, promoting a forthcoming album and shaking down new tunes, and we booked tix eagerly!

Headed off at 7.30 and parked up round the corner from this easier-to-find-than-I-remembered venue, getting in just as Viva Machine took the stage. Purveyors of an epic sound with some chuntering of 80's-like beats, they were a weird collision of Muse and the Psychedelic Furs. Good thoughtful song construction though, from a promising lot...

Hung out in the corridor of this Arts Centre venue, checking out the students' paintings, then took a position stage left for the Automatic, who strolled casually onstage with the minimum of fuss, and roared into a powerful, strident newie. This set the tone for the set; a newie, an oldie, a newie, an oldie! However, whereas their first CD "Not Accepted Anywhere", good though it was, suffered from a lack of variation or deviation from their bludgeoning terrace chant chorus and hard rock stylings, the new material showed some variation, maturity and progression, whilst still being firmly welded onto the Automatic template, and shone as a consequence.

And "live", these guys know how to put on a performance. Their Seafood-meets-Therapy? jagged strident hard rock really takes flight, and it was disappointing that this sell-out crowd didn't receive them with the enthusiasm they deserved. "Monster" (casually thrown in, 4th number in, with the brilliant and dismissive intro of, "here's an obscure oldie") apart, the crowd reaction was flat. Nevertheless, The Automatic rocked on with power and passion, augmented by new member Paul Mullen, replacing the jumpy about for no reason Pennie to great effect.

The handclapping, sing-along "Raoul" preceded a couple of excellent newies, one of which featured some fine guitar interplay and a trademark splendid hook of "All Change". After an hour of pounding powerful rock they were brought back for an unexpected (so it seemed) encore of another new number, to cap a damn fine set. So, definitely not a one-off; here's a band fully deserving of the prefix "The Mighty..." and possibly the accolade of the Best Welsh Band since, ooh, ever...! This new CD is going to be one heck of a listen!

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