Sunday, 6 February 2011

779 THE AUTOMATIC, Straight Lines, We Are Antics, Swindon 12 Bar, Tuesday 2 March 2010

The return to gig action of The Mighty Automatic, hosts of a couple of incendiary rock gigs in the past couple of years for us, would normally be cause enough for celebration. The fact that, amazingly, they were playing at the pub venue 12 Bar, a mere 20 minutes walk from our house, was another whole kettle of whoopee altogether!

So, babysitter in situ, Rachel and I had a rare experience of walking to a gig, hitting the venue just after doors at 8. I'd booked tix for this one last November, on announcement of the tour, anticipating a sell-out. However early doors it was very quiet as we slipped in and checked out first support We Are Antics, a painfully young bunch who'd obviously been force-fed a lot of Jam by their dads whilst growing up, judging by the bolshy push'n'shove nature of their music. However. they also admirably tried a couple of more complex song structures, and whilst their reach is far exceeding their grasp at this stage, they left a favourable impression. Good on you, boys, and certainly a better prospect than main support Straight Lines, yet another female fronted Sioux-alike mob riding on Florence And The Machine's coattails, whom we heard from the relative safety of the bar.

We wandered back in at 20 to 10, popping forward primarily to get a better view, but finding ourselves down the front, stage right, with room to move. The place was still only about 3/4 full as the Automatic set up, and when they took the stage at 10, it was to an air of almost indifference from this young Swindon crowd. Very odd! However, the Automatic didn't allow that to affect their performance, and tore into their set with their usual tinder-wolf ferocity. Opener "Interstate" was an almost palpable wall of noise, and oldie "Recover" saw the band rocking out furiously and dynamically to their strident, powerful terrace-chant hooky rock.

"Hello Swindon; we got here (to the pub) at 4 and we've not been anywhere else!" said vocalist Rob, prompting some wag down the front (i.e. me!) to reply, "there's nowhere else worth going!" which drew a chuckle from the boys. Indeed, the band were in good fooling tonight as well as in good hard-rocking form, keyboardist Paul stating the only time he'd come across Swindon before was when STFC beat his hometown team Sunderland at Wembley in 1990! "Raoul" drew Rach and myself into the small young mosh, but 2 numbers later, "Monster", again thrown stylishly and casually in mid-set, blew the doors off with a wonderfully powerful, shoutalong rendition of their "millstone" number. A sprinkling of new numbers from forthcoming album "Tear The Signs Down" demonstrated that the new apples didn't fall too far from the Automatic tree, whilst also throwing some moodier, more studied mid-paced light and shade into the set. However a brilliant "Sleepwalking", my set highlight, and closer "Steve McQueen" saw them roaring back with a vengeance, as we rocked furiously down the front to another marvellous set from one of the mere handful of bands I've seen who, "live", are truly deserving of the prefix, "The Mighty.."!

Nice blokes too, as we hung around briefly afterwards for set-list signings, chats and compliments, along with apologies that the place was so empty. Back home for 11.30 with ears ringing from the rock. Swindon, you really don't know what you've just missed!

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