Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Automatic + The View + The Horrors + Mumm-Ra @ Academy, Birmingham

7 February 2007

Whatever you think of the magazine itself, the NME tour has earned itself a reputation in recent years for showcasing genuine superstars-in-waiting. Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay – they all went stratospheric after this tour.

They all played the mythical opening slot, too. Whether this is some kind of bizarre fluke is unclear, but it sure as hell piles the pressure on if you’re a bunch of lads with a couple of singles under your belt.

And so Mumm-Ra enter the stage to the kind of anticipation most bottom-of-the-bill acts could only dream of. “How did you guys all get in here so early?” asks bemused frontman James New. Well, the idea is that when you’re headlining Glastonbury next year, they can say “I was there first”.

Does success on that scale beckon for the band? Probably not. They have bags of potential, and new single What Would Steve Do is a soaring, shiny gem, but overall they don’t appear to have the songs to truly crack the big time in the manner of the above. The likes of She’s Got You High and Song B stand them out from the hordes of identikit indie groups, and more than justify the hype. By the end of set-closer Out Of The Question, only the deaf could remain unconverted.

Did Mumm-Ra swing it for The Horrors to play after them? If they did, it’s a genius move, as Farris Rotter and his lame cohorts are an example of the worst kind of over hyped, talent less wannabes, and make Mumm-Ra look like the greatest band on the planet.

OK, the performance looks impressive, all backlit silhouettes and dramatic flashes, and Rotter is a charismatic front man, but the music is utterly appalling- a derivative mess of sub-Ramones riffs, attitude-free Pistols vocals and white noise.

They’d just be another shit band, if it wasn’t for the relentless arse-licking they receive from the NME. This makes them an offensive waste of time and space, and the list of bands that should be in this slot instead of them is endless. The sooner these jokers fade away- and believe me, they will- the better.

The line-up for the tour was decided when The View had reached the Top 20 with their first two singles. Since then, they’ve had a number one album and ubiquitous top three single, and overtaken headliners The Automatic as the country’s new favourite band.

So, as expected, the chants of “The View are on fire” resound throughout the venue, greeting the young Dundonians as they launch into Comin’ Down. From then on, it’s a relentless attack of one raw anthem after another, to the delight of the adoring crowd. Mass sing-alongs Same Jeans, Wasted Little DJs and Superstar Tradesman are brimming with a vitality that sounds impossibly exciting. The future is very bright indeed for these lads.

There’s an inevitable sense of anti-climax about The Automatic‘s appearance after The View’s storming set, with the crowd noticeably thinner. It’s through no fault of the band though, who are a much more thrilling proposition live than on record.

If only keyboardist Pennie wasn’t such an annoyance, yelping and leaping around at every opportunity. It’s hard to ignore him, as he climbs from speakers and leaps from the balcony, but the band can’t be condemned simply because of his buffoonery.

How many groups have written a hit as far-reaching as Monster? From terraces to soaps to indie discos, it’s everywhere, but that’s not all they have offer. While they may not have the urchin energy of The View, their ability to churn out powerhouse anthems like Raoul and Recover should ensure that they stick around for a while yet.

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More on The Automatic
The Automatic – Tear The Signs Down
The Automatic + The View + The Horrors + Mumm-Ra @ Academy, Birmingham
The Automatic @ Metropolitan University, Leeds
The Automatic – Not Accepted Anywhere