Despite the fact they’ve only really existed for a little over a year, this Aliens tour was a long time coming. Front man Gordon Anderson had broken his collarbone earlier in the year, putting an abrupt halt to their inevitable stride towards domination of the universe. So this tour was pretty much the first chance we had to see them in 2007. Would Anderson still leap about the stage like the madman (bad choice of words, given his personal history) he is?
He would, but not to the often life-and-limb-threatening degree to which he has before. The show was preceded by a film keyboardist John Maclean had made, taking the three of them larking about in what looks like a space ship knocked up in one of their bedrooms, and interspersing it with actual footage from Startrek. Despite the fact no one in ULU could hear it, laughs were had by all at what seemed to be the appropriate moments.
Setting Sun opened, slightly faster than the version on Astronomy For Dogs and slightly the worse for it. While it is a thumping track and one of the many cornerstones of their live show, it seemed that Anderson wanted to get through it as quickly as possible in order to get to the really fun stuff.
That fun stuff is defined by Robot Man, complete with Anderson’s restrained bopping, and Rox, performed in the encore. There are few better things you can see on stage today than The Aliens performing these funk-rock-electronica beauties. Even I danced, and I never dance. Across London The White Stripes were performing at Hyde Park. I was torn between the two, but the swirling synth intro to Robot Man silenced the dreadful voice in me regretting not going to Wireless Festival.
Not one to boogie to so much, but highlight of the entire night was Ionas (Look For Space). This captured The Aliens at their most melodic and Anderson his most passionate, as he sang about a subject close to his heart (apparently he’s big on astronomy), building to the crescendo of his own space-rock guitar solo. A long and exhausting song, and a classic memory for those there on this June night.
Anderson, sporting frizzy hair that suggested his electroshock days weren’t over just yet, made up for his lack of puppy-bounding by more banter than usual. Some jokers threw on stage some inflated surgical gloves, only for Anderson to draw faces on them, designate one male and one female, and.do stuff with them.
To cries of ‘get on with it’ he duly did, in a set that included one new song. In fact, it was merely a radical reworking of Caravan, but it was pretty good so we’ll allow it. A mention must go to Robin Jones, the unsung hub of the band. He really is a fine drummer, smashing things like Keith Moon one moment and keeping in time Ringo-style the next.
Next for The Aliens: the festivals. It’s gonna be grand.