“You and me have electricity” intones Longview singer Rob McVey at the outset of this ULU session, essentially a showcase for their debut album Mercury. Unfortunately there’s not too much electricity evident at this point, and it would seem the band are going to have to provide a bit more to light their path towards greatness.
It’s not that the music’s bad, but there’s a definite feeling that Longview are lacking in chemistry onstage, failing to interact with the crowd enough and, as a result, happy just to play their instruments above the many talking heads towards the back of the venue.
The success of Further has undoubtedly been aided by the previous acceptance of bands such as Elbow and Doves, with both often alluded to in the textures and songwriting on offer. There’s also a strong resemblance to Gene‘s Martin Rossiter at the opening of Falling For You.
The album holds up well live though, the quartet being a tight outfit even if we can’t see the drummer in the relative gloom at the back of the stage. At the front it’s a floppy fringe festival, McVey’s blond locks flanked by two equally well follicled axe men who look up occasionally but are more often than not immersed in the music.
McVey does a plaintive, Embrace style vocal well in the aching I Would, coloured by some tasteful polka dot lighting, but as on the album he sounds less convincing when asked to move up a gear on Nowhere, complete with Manics riff-mongering.
Best moment by some distance is the majestic Can’t Explain, which sees the band hit their stride after the slightly nervy opening, although the lack of the piano on the album version robs it of some subtlety. Backing vocalist Sarah Shawcross proves a sweet toned counterpart to McVey on Falling For You – at least, she does once the engineering balance is resolved, and then there’s Further, naturally the best received song of the night and still coming across well, despite its repeated exposure on radio.
The band finally threaten to cut loose on the penultimate Will You Wait Here, as old war planes race across the screen above the invisible drummer. Sadly this comes to nothing as the final track This Is, the slowest of the night, finds McVey in solitary confinement above the barest of accompaniment. Effective, but a low-key way to close considering it’s your first major headlining appearance since the release of a debut album.
On this evidence Longview are a solid group of musicians who have made an album which is good to listen to but need a lot more panache when performed in the live arena, and they will need to address this problem in order to build on the success they’ve enjoyed so far.