Friday, 4 December 2009

723 THE AUTOMATIC, The View, The Horrors, Mumm-Ra, NME Awards Tour, Reading Hexagon, Monday 12 February 2007

After a very long absence, it’s a welcome return of the former NME "Brats Bus" tour, so much enjoyed in the mid-90s. This time a swathe of currently championed bands, including The Automatic, whom I’d come across only recently thanks to their punk rock terrace chant "Monster". I’d bought their CD in town while Evan was visiting for New Year, only for him to pipe up, "is that the song that goes, "what’s that coming over the hill"?" Nine years old, and he already out-cools me...

Anyway, Rachel and I hit the road at 6.15, parking in the cavernous car park next to the Hexagon, and taking our balcony seats midway through Mumm-Ra’s set. They had a reasonably nice line in poppy push’n’shove stuff, kind of Libertines meets Boo Radleys, although the singer had an unhealthy fixation with a wooden duck, which he spun repeatedly on a stick and attempted to catch, finally succeeding midway through the final number.

The Horrors, next up, came on under cover of darkness and a swathe of strobes, and played the kind of dark synth-driven uber-Goth noise that should really have gone out of fashion with Alien Sex Fiend. The spindly singer’s menacing howl was rather offset by the fact he had balloons tied to him. Black balloons, nevertheless, but still balloons, f’rchrissakes, which lent their hard-on-the-ears set a faintly comic, "Munsters"-like air.

Took a walk before Dundee teens The View, on at 9. They’ve been hyped beyond recognition, and have already pissed Rach off by inventing their own chant, "The View, The View, The View are on fire". Hopes weren’t high but thankfully there was only a smattering of chanting from the young, squeaky sell-out crowd. To be fair, The View exceeded my admittedly low expectations, playing some spritely young pop which was better faster. I counted 3 good numbers amongst a lot of alright ones; the unnamed "Blue Boy"-like 3rd number which turned out the best of the lot; then "The Boy Can Play" and closer "Superstar Tradesman". Preceding this, however, was their number 1 single, "Same Jeans", a shameless rip-off of "Brimful Of Asha". The View? The jury’s out…

Got a drink before The Automatic, due at 10. We’d mused that, given the View’s current ascendancy, they might have switched the running order and let them headline. That notion was well and truly blasted into oblivion after the first Automatic number…

Simply, the Automatic were awesome "live", a word I try not to use too lightly these days. However they were a rampaging behemoth, delivering a staggering set which was the aural equivalent of going 10 rounds with Ricky Hatton. Bristling with power, purpose and menace, they knocked the already-strident recorded versions of their material into a cocked hat. Musically, they inhabit a vaguely 80’s headspace, between the moody rock of Interpol etc. and the almost funky bass-heavy theatrics of the Killers. Live, however, they’re a stunning, pounding beast. Half their set raced by before the kinetic, cowbell playing keyboardist/ vocal back-up man announced a new song – "is it a ballad?" I remarked ironically. No chance of that!
"Monster" was admirably delivered without fanfare, midway through the set. It was the killer, the definitive moment, full of seething menace, with the Seafood-like call and response middle 8 halting abruptly for the a cappella delivery of the hook. Brilliant.

A cover of Talking Heads’ "Life During Wartime" followed, powered up and made their own, as if the chorus was their own musical manifesto; "This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around." Too right!

An all-too-short 50 minutes whipped by. By no means subtle, Rach and I agreed hat the Automatic were nevertheless great tonight. If the View are on fire, The Automatic are a full-on 4-tender towering inferno!

No comments:

Post a Comment