Wednesday, 9 June 2010

459 THE SHAZAM, Myracle Brah, Farrah, London Camden Underworld, Wednesday 27 September 2000

Two London gigs in one week isn't the way I normally do things, being the venerable age of 35 and all, but as I'm leaving my job at the end of this week I don't really care! So, off Rachel and I did trot, and following a reasonable run in foul weather, we parked on Camden High Street and hit this venue - amazingly, a new one on me! - just before 8. Having sussed out the complicated one-way system around the bar to the stage and "pit" dancefloor (quite literally), we were well in place for openers Farrah at 8.

Our friend Clive had tipped Farrah, and we could immediately tell why, as they burst brightly and janglily (!) into set opener "Harold Bishop". The vocalist, who facially reminded me of Data from Star Trek (!!) was an energetic presence and the band complemented him well with some fine push'n'shove powerpop, with instant hooks and strong choruses. You never noticed from this performance that they were down one member, attending a wedding (tuh! priorities!). "Terry" and the instantly memorable "Living For The Weekend", singles both, were strong highlights of a fine pop set from a band I'll see again, hopefully repeatedly!

Myracle Brah followed sharply after at 8.45, and were also superb. A very tough and powerfully played set of Teenage Fanclub/ Posies-like big heartfelt songs and harmonies which occasionally left me agog, and if the set occasionally slightly wavered into wig-out rock riffery, how can I hold a grudge against a band who has such an achingly heartbreaking, soaringly wonderful song as "She's So Young", an open-top drive through the Beach Boys' back catalogue, with a stop at the Posies filling station on the way? My last Myracle Brah live experience left me thinking they're one to watch; that impression was confirmed in spades, and underlined by the splendid Sterlings-esque new single "I'd Rather Be". Harmonic, melodic, deliciously powerful "live" - what more could I really want??

Well, how about some huge, swaying, stadium-filling (in a parallel universe, surely!) big rock choruses, and Cheap Trick style chunky riffs and hooks, for something? Well, then let's bring on Nashville's finest, The Shazam! Finally headlining (so we had the full near-hour experience), and with the sound sorted to almost pindrop-perfect, Hans and the boys did it total justice with a committed performance of power and gusto. From the mega intro into "Super Tuesday" I was rocking and singing every word, a point not lost on guitarist Jeremy afterwards! So many highlights from excellent hook-laden album "Godspeed The Shazam", but melancholic rock ballad "Some Other Time" stood out, as did their overall love of playing, when they squeezed an unexpected encore into their performance. Chatted to Jeremy and Hans afterwards, and was pleasantly surprised to note that they'd remembered we'd driven from Swindon for their last show! Also had a couple of words (exiting the gents!) with Myracle Brah frontman Andy Bopp, a big guy with a vice-like handshake, before hitting the road.

Verdict on a fine triple-header? Well, Farrah were a fine You Am I-like new delight, Myracle Brah underlined and enhanced a growing rep, but for me the sparkling Shazam won the night!

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