The Drums sell England by the pound while Voo and Field Music provide a brief, if brilliant send off.
Andy leans in to enquire: ‘This lot are from Manchester, right?‘
‘No, Brooklyn,’ I reply with a degree of hesitancy – everyone’s from Brooklyn these days, right?
‘Nah, you’re wrong mate, they’re defo not from the States,’ comes the big man’s response.
‘They are, I think,’ my assurance notably wavering. Andy gives me a nod as if to say, ‘you haven’t got a clue, you, Guy,’ as another wave of English mope-pop blasts from the stage.
And then, just then, I’m left questioning a conviction which up until that moment I’d have put my record collection on – The Drums, the NME cover darlings, the hype-band of 2010, are an American band from Brooklyn, NYC. Aren’t they?
On cue frontman Jonathan Pierce pipes up, ‘Hey you guuuuuuuys, this song’s all about havin’ fun – and that’s somethin’ we’re havin’ everyday right now.‘
His skewed Yank drawl providing conclusive proof that they’re not from this side of the pond – and my momentary lapse of useless pop trivia waltzes into the grey plumes of mist.
But make no mistake, to the uninitiated you’d have no idea that The Drums were American – infact Laddies would give you firm odds on them hailing from a stereotypical northern conurbation. And you could probably have a spread bet that they’re bezzies with Northern Uproar.
For this is a band that nails their colours so firmly to the mast they may as well have a gigantic Union Jack backdrop and walk on stage to Land of Hope and Glory.
The Cure, New Order, The Smiths, Joy Division, Orange Juice and almost any other cornerstone of late 80s/early 90s English guitar pop is faithfully represented so much so you’d almost believe this was a decent cover band putting their own spin on affairs.
But they’re not – and it’s difficult to completely buy into their sound – that is, if you’re familiar with those mentioned above; do we just accept all music is cyclical, all bases have been covered and that this is simply a contemporary update on the classics?
Apparently, not. For the masses here tonight are clearly loving one of the leading lights of Liverpool Music Week.
For every Damon-aping posture or Moz-style flapping of mic lead that Pierce adds to the anglicised hotpot the crowd burst with joy. Bottoms are wiggled, hands are thrust aloft and girls sing gleefully along to Pierce’s post-punk patter.
Not me I’m afraid. Though their performance is fun and bristling with buoyant charisma, the songs are largely empty and unmemorable, and throw in a distinctly annoying backing keyboard track that only adds to the lack of authenticity.
Leaving we can’t help but think of The Strokes a third-wave punk band who seemingly burst out of nowhere to sell us first-wave sounds. It seemed fresh and original by comparison The Drums’ brand of English guitar music is so fresh in the memory their sound cannot fail to appear worn out already.
Pictures courtesy of Mark McNulty.
A quick dash across town enabled us to catch a snippet of another LMW gig, tis time in the sensual red surrounds of Mojo, a place were bands play in front of Warhol‘s Elvis screenprints while Television‘s Marquee Moon rips in between sets.
Sadly for us we arrive during the closing moments of a Getintothis favourite, Voo, who are busy getting busy with their usual closer Schnick Schnack Schnuck – it’s a propulsive cyclical instrumental veering completely from their characteristic two-minute pop gems.
Andy and I silently shower the air with expletives at missing one of Liverpool’s finest pop bands.
Field Music make up for it with several tracks before our last train home curtails an evening of mixed audio fortunes. Blending chiming-then-cracking riffs, duel percussion, soulful harmonies and an XTC-verve, they’re a band that I’ll be eager to catch again – and on a night when the last train home won’t prove an untimely interuption.
Voo: Schnick Schnack Schnuck Nike Partners In Crime Ad.