Two Door Cinema Club, Metronomy, Tribes & Azealia Banks
@ Brixton Academy, London, 25 February 2012
by Martin Headon
"Make some noise Brixtooooooooon!" hollers wildcard bill-footer Azealia Banks to the vocal approval of a few hundred youngsters, none of whom live there. No one ever shouts "Islington!" at its Academy. At Brixton, they can't get enough of it. Curious.
When not bigging up SW9, Miss Banks spends most of her set rapping with great dexterity but little comprehensibility, stuck static behind monitors set well back from the stage lip. Segueing the trash-talking 212 into a cover of Firestarter is an easy crowd-pleaser, and an a capella Valerie hints at a hefty pair of lungs, but there's little else to ignite the early birds.
A steady stageward stream of blokes carrying an average of two pints each announces the impending arrival of Tribes. When they make the stage, they find themselves hampered partly by the muddy, echo-y mix, but mostly by just how dated they sound. Hearing Sappho (rejected title: "Check out our song! It's about a lesbian!") just after Azealia Banks requesting us to "put that ton-tongue d-deep in" is like sitting through Two Girls One Cup before settling down to enjoy Emmanuelle 3.
On record, their grungey, glammy take on the two-guitar template is infectious and spirited. Live, anything that might have rendered their set interesting is dumped headfirst into the indie landfill. It's hard to pinpoint the nadir, but the appearance of an acoustic guitar half-way through - as if the pace needed slowing any further after the plodding Corner Of An English Field - stands out.
They end with We Were Children; and though the line about being children in the mid 90s is guaranteed to send a thirty-something music reviewer into a downward spiral of rage and depression, some comfort can be drawn from the fact that one day it will have the same effect on them - which will also provide sufficient punishment for this tiresome set.
A notably younger, hipper breed of fans files to the front for Metronomy and things start to look up - though after a low-key opening, it's only until song-of-2011 The Bay is unleashed that the crowd really wakes up. The pattern persists for the remainder of their slot - up-tempo numbers with prominent keyboard hooks are greeted with much capering and joy, while slow-burners like the normally superb She Wants somehow fail to hit the mark.
It's still a huge improvement on what's gone before, with Heartbreaker's synchronised saluting and the always excellent bass work of Gbenga Adelekan adding much-needed class. And when they sign off with the pier-end organ riff of The Look, it's little short of thrilling.
Although billed as the NME Awards tour, this is very much Two Door Cinema Club's night. All the other acts find themselves limited by an apparent edict that the stage lighting may illuminate anything in the building apart from the musicians - rendering Metronomy's chest lights more necessary than superfluous. By contrast, Two Door bring with them a drum riser, about double the room on stage, several new banks of retina-scorching strobes, a loud clear sound, and two explosions of glittery paper during Undercover Martyn and set-closer I Can Talk.
It's almost the exact opposite of Metronomy - slick and stimulating, but not exactly over-burdened with personality. It's one of those workmanlike London gigs that's good enough to get the fans raving, but not to be wistfully remembered long into the future. There's a sense that the new album can't come soon enough, as the filler tracks from Tourist History start to merge together in the mind.
Still, they can't go far wrong with the fresh exuberance of Cigarettes In The Theatre or the effervescent Something Good Can Work, and the three new songs showcased sound as anthemic yet more dynamically subtle than their debut. They're far from the most interesting or innovative band on the bill, but Two Door Cinema Club remain the ultimate no-brainer indie festival booking for 2012.
|recent gig reviews|
- Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler @ Scala, London
- Happy Mondays @ Roundhouse, London
- Los Campesinos! @ Islington Assembly Hall, London
- Saint Etienne @ Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
- Stars Of The Lid @ St John-at-Hackney, London
- Stealing Sheep @ Bush Hall, London
- FESTIVAL: ATP/The National @ Pontins, Camber
- FESTIVAL IN PHOTOS: ATP/The National @ Pontins, Camber
- Pulp @ Sheffield Arena, Sheffield
- Stars @ Garage, London
- Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate @ Blind Tiger Club, Brighton
- Band of Skulls @ Brixton Academy, London
- IN PHOTOS: Mission Of Burma @ Birthdays, London
- Ben Folds Five @ Brixton Academy, London
- Florence And The Machine @ 02 Arena, London
- Matthew Dear @ Fabric, London
- Lisa Stansfield @ Scala, London
- IN PHOTOS: Yeasayer @ Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
- Martha Wainwright @ Ritz, Manchester
- Jon Spencer Blues Explosion @ Electric Ballroom, London
- Akala @ Cargo, London
- IN PHOTOS: Mystery Jets @ Royal Festival Hall, London
- Mystery Jets @ Royal Festival Hall, London
- IN PHOTOS: Keane @ O2 Arena, London
- IN PHOTOS: Rodrigo y Gabriela @ Forum, London
- Thea Gilmore @ Union Chapel, London
- Wild Nothing @ Lexington, London
- Let's Wrestle & Tigercats & Omi Palone @ Lexington, London
- Martin Rossiter @ Borderline, London
- Susanne Sundfør @ St Pancras Old Church, London
- Shearwater @ St Philip with St Stephen Church, Salford
- Noah and The Whale @ St John-at-Hackney Church, London
- The Wedding Present @ KOKO, London
- Dirty Three @ Manchester Cathedral, Manchester
- Julianna Barwick @ Cafe OTO, London
- Veronica Falls @ Servant Jazz Quarters, London
- Band of Horses @ Hammersmith Apollo, London
- IN PHOTOS: Saint Saviour @ Lexington, London
- First Aid Kit @ Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
- Sea of Bees @ Jericho Tavern, Oxford
- Rodriguez @ Royal Festival Hall, London
- Flying Lotus @ Troxy, London
- Jack Dejohnette Group @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, London