The second coming of Liverpool’s lost brothers and sisters? Getintothis’ Orla Foster is kept waiting.
The excitement is mounting for Miles Kane‘s first solo gig in Liverpool. It’s just after 7pm and already queues are forming outside the entrance to Mojo – enough to make anyone feel hotly-anticipated. And when you’re Miles Kane, fresh from a long break and eager to test the waters with your new material, it’s an encouraging sign.
Being Music Week, there’s a healthy array of acts on this evening, starting with ex-The Maybes? main man Nick Ellis, who delivers an impassioned, if not particularly extraordinary set.
Stripped of his band his standard-issue Liverpudlian troubadour voice comes to the fore; a voice which probably addresses some kind of demand what with Dave McCabe‘s recent strops putting his career on pause.
Still, Nick’s here mostly to grease the strings for the rest of the evening, and it’s a role he carries off decently enough.
Next up is Kane’s former Little Flames band-mate Eva Peterson, causing the atmosphere to seethe with all the tension of a Nadine Coyle/Cheryl Cole face-off. Alright, it’s nothing of the kind. Actually, it’s more like watching a siren in the corner of a gentleman’s club, purring melodies and looking sweet enough to pour over your cereal, without ever really providing enough distraction from the taxing business of picking out drinks at the bar.
Still, Eva Petersen has some good material on offer, her voice alternating between seductively languid on Don’t Be Shy and punchy on numbers like Answer Me – she’s like Kathy Kirby without the granny-perm. She’s brought a band along this time as well, giving the songs a little more weight.
Despite her evident talent and appealing presence, however, Eva’s performance doesn’t seem to command the room, with pundits more captivated by those immediately around them, as well as getting nicely oiled before the rest of their Thursday night kicks in.
This, of course, is fine, but having awaited a glimpse of Eva playing live for some time now, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Perhaps a more contained venue like Mello Mello, or else a kitchen cupboard somewhere, would have been better for what she has to offer.
It’s packed in here and there’s certainly no shortage of potential fans, but the live performances seem almost like an afterthought, an incidental detail. Following this, The Venus Fury make a couple of waves with their odd Golden Brown cover which goes down quite well.
Then Bicycle Thieves, despite their heavyweight status in Liverpool, stoop to provide an agreeable soundtrack to a student indie disco. Which is what tonight can’t help being. Mind you, the place is heaving. It could be that I’m too far from the stage to pass a fair judgement.
Because if you weren’t one of the devoted masses queuing at 7pm, you probably haven’t a hope of seeing what’s going on. At best, you’re a couple of miles deep into the crowd, and condemned to make each act the scourge of your uninformed opinion. Apologies.
But then Kane appears, and hurtles into some likeable guitar-pop while his iridescent mop-top beams light back into the crowd. As someone who has said in interviews how much he enjoys the day-job of “getting out there and gigging”, his enthusiasm is plain to see.
Unkindly regarded by some as the budget Alex Turner, Miles hasn’t really had the chance to prove himself as a lone wolf. Granted, he was the gregarious centre-piece of the ever-reticent Rascals, and experienced mild success as a Little Flame before that. But it was the Last Shadow Puppets that gave him a lick of credibility, balancing breath-taking string crescendos with biting, eloquent couplets borne out with the same ready use of colloquialisms that’s always been a driving force behind Alex Turner‘s appeal.
What’s more, as one half of the Last Shadow Puppets, Kane had the advantage of a heady mix of high class and high jinks.
You need only look over their concert venues; Oxford New Theatre, Brussels Cirque Royal, New York’s Grand Ballroom, Sheffield City Hall, the Liverpool Philharmonic.
On stage, offset by a veteran orchestra, they might have looked small and slightly raffish, like little boys scrubbed up for Sunday school, but they were guaranteed a rapt, lavishly-seated audience whose eyes were on their every motion.
Tonight, it’s a different story. There are so many people crammed into the narrow environs, all facing different directions, transporting sambuca from hand to hand and making small talk about all that is “awesome” in their student lives that it’s hard to stay focused on what is happening on stage.
Still, the new stuff’s not bad, if unsurprising. And where influences are concerned, Kane has always nailed his colours to the mast. At Rascals gigs, he made Lennon‘s Instant Karma his own. He’s stated an enduring affection for Billy Fury, dabbled in his fair share of spiralling Coral-tinged psychedelia and his latest release features a Lee Hazlewood number on the B-side.
New song Re-arrange is a rousing ditty, and he always manages to look as though he’s enjoying the occasion. Current single Inhaler adopts a repeat-title-repeat-title-at-all-costs chorus over a helping of fuzzy garage noise which is at times more Datsuns than dream-pop, even if there’s enough “yeah yeah yeahs” to keep The Cavern in earshot.
But sometimes there is a sneaking suspicion that the 1960s might be being used as a crutch to keep projects like this afloat. While retro influences were used to dazzling effect in The Age of the Understatement, they can feel a little hackneyed in their current setting, stripped of soaring harmonies, tambourines, and that familiar pair of suited-up rogues trading wry grins.
Most of all, it’s hard to gauge what can be next for the likes of Petersen and Kane, once they’ve plundered the depths of Hairy Records, and recreated it note for note.
Surely the well has to run dry at some point? Oh, maybe it was the sweat streaming down the walls, and maybe it was having to pay ÃÂ£3 for a fistful of Heineken, with last-train gloom hanging overhead. But whenever the second coming of Miles Kane is scheduled to take place, it wasn’t tonight.
Miles Kane: Inhaler
Photography courtesy of Ash Williams.