There’s been a buzz about Goldrush ever since they were signed to Virgin, allegedly for a six figure sum, last year. And with the release of the band’s perky single Same Picture, here they are tonight to promote that and songs from their soon-to-be released album, Don’t Bring Me Down.
Enter stage left Oxfords latest generation of Byrds-loving guitar popsters, and the first thing which strikes me is quite how young they look – like, enough to make anyone in the audience over 23 suddenly feel weathered and world-weary.
But it’s not just youth which Goldrush have on their side. From the amount of instrument swapping which goes on in the opening numbers it’s clear that most of them spent their breaks at college mastering more than their own instrument. You can almost imagine the discussions at band rehearsals in one of their bedrooms: “No, YOU play keyboards for a while, I want to have a go on bass…” This impression remains undiminished by the mid-set introduction of what looks like a couple of old school mates who, somewhat pointlessly, come on for a few discordant parps and then shuffle off again.
The resulting sound is appealingly home-made, and as they launch into the distorted drum machine and acoustic guitar-led opening number, Goldrush are reminiscent of early Gomez – though sadly lacking the masterly vocal talents of Ben Ottewell. Goldrush may be prettier than Gomez, but when your singer takes his vocal cue from Mark Gardner (it must be something in Oxfords gene pool), you must know youre not aiming high enough.
The harmonising between Robin and Joe Bennett, however, proves throughout the set to be one of their greatest assets, and could be their saving grace until they find their definitive sound. While Same Picture stands out as straightforward pop, much of their material aspires to Byrdsian country rock (not for nothing did they change their name from Whispering Bob (as in Harris) to their current, more authentic US-sounding moniker). But they need still more assets to stand out from the crowd. The impression the band give at the moment is of a group of lads who have struck lucky – while the Bennett brothers obvious talent hints at potential, they need to stop being quite so nice and kick some ass.