Thursday, 28 January 2010

615 ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE, Clearlake, The Upper Room, Oxford Zodiac, Sunday 2 November 2003

An intriguing indie double-header, this, from 2 young British bands who'd just released follow-ups to promising debut CDs. We'd bought neither, so we were demanding to be impressed!

Set off at 6.30 with friends, and had to queue up on arrival. However we got in quickly and got drinks in before the opener, The Upper Room, on at 7.50. A very young band who evidently listened to a lot of their elder brothers' old vinyl Smiths albums, they were tuneful, toe-tappingly melodic and had a very English sense of pseudo-melancholy and misery. A quite strident young vocalist too; with more practice and honing they could be ones to watch...

Clearlake, next up, were however a great disappointment. Gone were the elegant, pastoral moods and intriguing wall-of-sound musicianship, in favour of a clutch of numbers which were actually quite dull, harsh sounding and almost Radiohead-like in their plodding moroseness. I didn't recognise a single number from their first CD, "Lido", so I'm prepared to notch this one up to experience and not give up on this band just yet; certainly time ran out on them, so they may have planned to finish with "Don't Let The Cold In" or some such number, which would certainly have lightened the mood somewhat. But I think that's their new CD off our purchase list...

However, after the headliner's set, I think we'll pick up a copy of their new one! The White brothers and their touring band, featuring the impressive Matthew Priest, formerly of Dodgy, on drums, came on at 9.30 and impressed this either very nearly or very actually sold-out crowd with a sterling set of well-crafted and well played colourful and bright indie pop. I was surprised by how much of their earlier stuff leapt back into my head as it was played, and the new numbers were multi-layered and built to impressive crescendos of sound and strobe light. Tom White, a confident, almost cocky, frontman and his brother Alex - less of a stage presence but actually the better singer - dispensed with the excellent, Teenage Fanclub-esque "Silent To The Dark" early in the set, and without the Krautrock-like monotony of previous live renditions, too. Finishing the set strongly with the yearning "There's A Silence" and the bright "Start Again", and with one slow encore delivered solo by Tom, Electric Soft Parade impressed more than I expected. A fine set from a young Brighton band coming along very nicely, thank you!

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