There is a touch of the theatricals going on tonight at the Astoria. The Faint begin with a lone motionless figure at the front of the stage dressed in black and bathed in red light. ’80s synth pop is the theme and matching tight black trousers the uniform. It is, however refreshing to see them change their keyboards as often as another band might change guitars.
Clinic appear on stage decked out as foppish pearly kings with surgical masks. An odd choice of stage attire for any band let alone one from Liverpool. There are some fantastic moments in tonight’s performance, not least their forthcoming single Walking With Thee. Clinic’s individual and inventive style is reminiscent of The Beta Band but unfortunately without the drumming skills. They also share the attribute of taking a little time to warm to their task and would undoubtedly be even better on their own bill.
Peter Hayes from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has said that the NME / Carling gigs throw together a bunch of bands that shouldn’t be on the same line up. This point is underlined when …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead saunter on, to a few random guitar cords. There are no costumes but as soon as they strike up for real their energy alone wins the crowd over. Never mind the ‘stage paint’ theatricals. This audience want their show guitar-and-drum shaped!
Trail Of Dead’s thrash metal name belies a much more accessible talent in the vein of Idlewild or Queens Of The Stone Age. They display a fine twist on the smashing the instruments up cliché: Jason Reece, who starts out on drums, clearly frustrated with the guitar he has switched to throws it to the floor, rips the leads out and slings it into the audience. With a new guitar thrust into his hands there is no stopping him and he has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.
Reece is back on drums for the cataclysmic finale Teenhood. The ‘other’ lead singer makes the mistake of dropping into the photo pit. The fans, who have seen a good thing, want another guitar. The determination to hang onto it shows that he really likes this axe! Security try to assist and Reece, perhaps feeling guilty, lends a hand by lobbing his entire drum kit into the melee. Elsewhere the other two band members are trashing everything in sight. Bassist, Neil Busche, ends up lying under his own amp as it falls on top of him.
They have played for over an hour and there is no point asking for an encore as the stage is devoid of instruments. And we know them by the trail of brilliance.