Live Music + Gig Reviews

Razorlight @ Astoria, London

19 August 2004

For a night that promised so much, it certainly got off to a bad start. A torturous journey through the drizzle of our so-called summer was followed by an hour and a half of arguments with the Astoria door staff, eventually culminating in admittance. Needless to say, my former puppy dog enthusiasm for the evening had dampened somewhat.

Fortunately, as I sprinted up the stairs to the balcony of the Astoria, the gloriously spiky guitars and sultry vocals of the support band, Bloc Party, were there to cheer my spirits. They are, in my humble opinion, the “next big thing” and their debut album should be on everyone’s Christmas list. Already released singles Banquet and Little Thoughts were knocked out effortlessly; Kele Okereke has a wonderfully distinctive and rhythmic voice. Such quality gave the evening an almost double-headliner effect and the ill temper and frustration of the past two hours were a distant memory.

A brief wait and Razorlight, current darlings of the indie scene, bounded onstage to thunderous reception. Due to massive press, front-man Johnny Borrell’s charisma and the seriously, seriously good debut album Up All Night, Razorlight have proved so popular that an extra date and a venue upgrade were necessary. This was to be their biggest gig ever, do you think they were up for it?

Launching straight into Rip It Up, an irresistibly catchy and uplifting tune, the crowd convulsed and swayed. The sound quality was perfect and it was immediately obvious that Razorlight could sing and play live to the same high standard Up All Night had showcased. The vast majority of the albums songs were played out including the sensitive and topical plea to Peter Doherty, Don’t Go Back To Dalston. Golden Touch has a joyous rhythm that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of, and the intro of To The Sea was even more enchanting than on the album. The mellifluous Fall, Fall, Fall saw Borrell on the piano and was a beautifully tender moment. Set closer Stumble And Fall was riotous exhibition of blood and guts rock and roll, and finished with equipment and band members strewn all over the stage. New material? Well there was some of that too, and it was very good, by the way.

Razorlight are not only easy on the ear, but fun to watch as well. Borrell was animated and crowd inclusive throughout and the Swedish guitar duo, Carl Dalermo and Bjorn Algren jigged about in such a way that conjured up images of Morris dancers with guitars (stereotypical, I know, but I can’t help it). The band received a teddy bear and several items of clothing from the crowd but had the good grace to reciprocate with their sweaty towels (why on earth do people fight over these things?) and, more pleasantly, piles of white roses.

Johnny Borrell is famous for comparing himself to (amongst others) Bob Dylan and Orson Welles and preaching the greatness of Razorlight. He is not entirely deluded! There was enough on show tonight to suggest that Razorlight are a truly excellent band with more than a promising future ahead of them: Musicianship, showmanship, new material and lyrical quality. What more could anyone ask for? It was a very memorable gig, well worth all the trials of getting to it!

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