Before headliners Five O’Clock Heroes took to the stage, fellow Glaze Records band Operahouse entertained the Metro crowd with an edgily energetic 20-minute set.
The Camden quartet’s bass-driven rhythmic power and spikey guitar chords recall the post-punk music of Gang of Four and Talking Heads, or even (dare I say it) a grittier garage version of Franz Ferdinand. Some of the songs are not up to scratch but new single Man Next Door stands out and the band should make an impact if they can produce more of the same standard.
Five O’Clock Heroes, the half-British half-American four-piece based in NYC, are now beginning to make a name for themselves. Having toured extensively in the States and Europe, including supporting the likes of Brendan Benson, The Rakes and Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr, they’ve built up a loyal following the hard, old-fashioned way. But their brand of new wave-pop-rock – good tunes with credibility – deserves more attention.
During their infectious 45-minute show, frontman Antony Ellis joked about no one wanting to play their current single Skin Deep on the radio but its instant appeal is characteristic of the band’s catchy hook-laden songs. Despite their name, Five O’Clock Heroes sound not so much like The Jam as early Police, XTC or even Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
You can also see perhaps the influence of late seventies Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson when they still wrote refreshingly direct and uncomplicated three-minute tunes, but the band is not overly derivative. Even if the sound is not that original, the songs certainly are.
Their punchy performance made the most of their high-energy, fast-paced material, as they played almost all of the songs on their excellent debut album from last autumn, Bend to the Breaks.
Songs like In Control, White Girls, Corporate Boys and Time On My Hands came across really well, as did new song Speak Your Language. And the feelgood spirit they communicate certainly got the audience moving their bodies in this intimate basement venue.
No surprises, maybe, but also no self-indulgence. The lack of pretension is shown in the way the band evidently enjoy themselves as much as the audience. Unashamedly upbeat tuneful songs may not seem particularly trendy these days, but they are immaculately crafted and stick in your mind after just one listen. Spread the word around.