Live Music + Gig Reviews

Minuteman @ Spitz, London

19 March 2002

There’s a bit of a buzz about Minuteman at present. If the flash ofphotographers at the Spitz was anything to go by, their PR company must beworking overtime. Formed in early 2000 by Matt Jones, in the aftermath ofUltrasound‘s disintegration, the band has released two singles to date.Words Fail Me Now came out in November 2001 to great interest andsome acclaim and Gave You All The Blame was released.The titles give you a good clue as to what sort of territory we’re in: indierock angst, pairing bitter-sweet lyrics with crashing guitars.

Matt Jones is no Pop Idol, with his curious beaky profile, pierced lip andappalling taste in shirts, but he knows how to write a good tune. Hisspeciality is adding a great chorus so that by the end of each song italready feels like an old favourite. At the Spitz the sound balance wasoff, so virtually all vocals disappeared – which was a shame (and strange,as it was fine for a rather good performance by support band Athlete). Butthe crashing guitars were in fine form, in the capable hands of James Dare(a suitably dark, unhealthy-looking rock stereotype who likes to jump up anddown a lot, shaking his dank locks) and Paul Thomson on bass (looking almostcorporate in comparison). Tim Weller on drums / percussion was alsoimpressive.

There have been many comparisons made for Minuteman’s music -“Sparklehorse playing David Bowie” (Diamond Dogs era); “a less complicatedCooper Temple Clause‘; Mercury Rev, even Elvis Costello and The Hollies… and I thought I detected some Pearl Jam influences too. All you really needto know is that they rock, and that the songs are great.

That said, Minuteman could do with establishing a bit more rapport with theiraudience. It didn’t help when even the few words from Matt Jones in betweensongs were inaudible – but after a tight set of some 35 minutes, the sell-out audienceseemed pretty pleased with what they heard.

Definitely one to watch, Minuteman are reportedly putting thefinishing touches to an album for Ignition (the label run by Marcus Russell,manager of Oasis). One to watch.

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Minuteman @ Spitz, London