I’m tired and hungover. The last thing I want to do tonight is battle down to Clerkenwell to watch anyone, much less a bunch of Stoke youngsters touted as the hottest ones to watch do their thing. After all, most “next big things” tend to disappoint following the hype.
Not Agent Blue. They pound their brand of aggressive garage punk with a ferocity that’s as exciting as it is brutal, and with a cocksure arrogance that by far belies their tender years. They play a short but passionate set at the Trotwood, a tiny gem of a venue that tonight is packed to the rafters with enthusiasts and others eager to catch a glimpse of the new industry darlings.
There’s scuffling and shuffling as the band ready themselves. Then… an impossibly loud and intense wall of sound envelopes the audience as first song New School Devils starts with a vengeance. It’s impossible to fathom what frontman Nic Andrews – a spit for Duran Duran‘s Nick Rhodes – is singing above the accumulated noise of the five-piece but it doesn’t matter. It works.
Shades of The Cure flood through, spliced with undertones as punky and raw as The Sex Pistols while Andrews shouts out vocals reminiscent of Shaun Ryder, though lacking the refinement of The Happy Mondays‘ grooves.
Highlights include their catchy first single Sex, Drugs And Rocks Through Your Window and its follow-up Something Else. Andrews is a showman, playing the audience and making thrusting darts into the audience with microphone. Before long he’s sliding forward on his knees into a tightly packed crowd, then thrusting his hips, pouting and snarling his way through the set.
Precocious yes, but these kids pulsate with the sort of tight-knit professionalism that usually takes years to develop.
Knit-picking, a purist might suggest they rely all too heavily on their easy-to -dentify influences – from The Cure to The Happy Mondays and The Sex Pistols, but so what? Live, they rock.