Live Music + Gig Reviews

Computerman + Director @ Water Rats, London

18 May 2006

You can’t help but notice the whiff of fake indie in the air as Irish four-piece Director ply their perfectly crafted bedsit pop to the appreciative Water Rats audience: bands on such major labels as Atlantic don’t showcase their talents in the back rooms of Kings Cross pubs unless it’s all part of a very carefully considered image.

It works though: they’re tight and slick, playing songs that are already becoming familiar to an audience who have, in some cases, come all the way from their native Ireland to see them. Considering there’s probably less than 100 people in the audience, this is pretty impressive. Weaving in and out of these chosen few are Atlantic gofers who hand out badges and stickers, take names for a mailing list and generally big up the little band even as the catchy riffs draw our attention back to the stage.

Director don’t need a corporate juggernaut behind them to make the grade – between word of mouth and the internet, not to mention a single which went straight into the Irish top 10, they’re already established as one of the bands to watch this year, and rightly so. They’re energy and darkness, quirky and professional in equal measure, a cross between Weezer and Editors, fronted by geeky bespectacled Michael Moloney, who stands with supreme skinny-armed confidence between his beautiful guitarist Eoin Aherne, who looks like a teenaged Scott Walker, solid bassist Shea Lawlor and drummer Rowan Averill, endearingly mouthing along to the words of every song because he’s really, really enjoying himself. Bless.

They look like they’re having the time of their lives, confident without being arrogant as they cycle through the bassy hooks and intelligent lyrics that suggest a maturity beyond their years, from current single Reconnect to songs that, though they may be less familiar at the moment, are unlikely to stay that way for long. The crowd bay for an encore, but Director don’t indulge. There will be plenty more opportunities in the future, and for now, they’re happy to leave a highly satisfied audience waiting for more.

They’ve probably made the right decision, as for the next 45 minutes the night’s entertainment looks in danger of being curtailed by an errant fire alarm, which clangs intermittently until it’s silenced for good. Or bad as it turns out. Director would be a hard act for any band to follow, and Computerman certainly aren’t going to out do them tonight.

Bands from the Beatles to the Libertines have proved that two frontmen can work, and it’s definitely a unique gimmick to share the spotlight between overwrought, starey-eyed junior Robert Smith Adam Pickering and neatly-dressed uber-nerd Mark Sykes. Are they emo? Are they casual? Do they need to be trying to distract us from their music with their juxtaposed haircuts and dress styles? The answer to the last one is ‘no’ – as while they’re not up to Director’s standards, they’re certainly not bad. Even if poor Pickering does need three attempts at introducing the tongue-twisting Emily Your Memory is Your Enemy before giving up and letting Skyes do it for him.

Like Director, Computerman are confident in front of the crowd, reminding us that as this is the last night of the tour, their ‘new’ songs won’t be ‘new’ any more after this and send out stylised banter such as “this is a message to all romantics”. A well-fed boy in eyeliner is going to go far with this reviewer by making such promises. By the end of their set I’ve come round to them. They’re an odd novelty, but that’s not all they are. Their songs hold their own, their vocals are strong and diverse enough to warrant the double frontage and it’s not their fault they had to follow Director and the fire alarm tonight. Give them a chance – I think you’ll find they’re worth it.

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Computerman + Director @ Water Rats, London