Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Departure @ Garage, London

14 December 2004

For the uninitiated, The Departure are a five-piece from Northampton who have been around for barely a year. They got signed to major label Parlophone within four months of existing, and enjoyed rave reviews after supporting The Killers.

Their music incorporates the melody of the aforementioned Vegas group, the brood of Interpol, and the exuberance of Morrissey. They make a point of dressing well, thus oozing a breed of cool reminiscent of The Strokes – and after tonight’s confident performance at the Garage, they’re set to be very big indeed.

All the rock ‘n’ roll trademarks are there – they keep the audience waiting a good fifteen minutes after everything is ready to go, the set list features no encore and crowd interaction is kept to a minimum – occasional bold statements such as ‘London crowds are usually pretty static’ are the most we get out of front man David Jones. They’ve clearly lapped up the hype they’ve been receiving, but when they play with such ferocity and vigour, who’s to complain?

It’s an incredibly business-like performance, the band are almost issuing a take it or leave it ultimatum to the audience, as they trawl through their set almost dismissively. Recent single Be My Enemy kick starts the evening – pounding drums, driving guitars and Jones’ distinct vocals make this a fantastic track that should go a long way to breaking this band – Take Me Out made Franz Ferdinand superstars; Be My Enemy should pay similar dividends for The Departure.

If you were wondering whether the album is going to be as good as their first two singles, the proof came thick and fast – Under The Stairs and Only Human are anthems in waiting, their choruses echo in a 500-capacity venue for surely the last time. The latter track sees Jones cry ‘I Am Only Human/Why Do You Look At Me That Way’ – this is surely a claim which he’ll have to defend in the future given his seemingly prolific song-writing ability and ultra composed stage presence. Static he is not – nonchalantly strolling around the stage mimicking drumbeats and urging the crowd to move their hips; he is a breath of fresh air in a world of introverted performers.

What is noticeable is the dark nature of all the songs – brooding guitar rock is quite clearly the new black. Sam Harvey’s guitar resonates a ghostly and sinister sound, particularly on excellent B-side Dirty Words, whilst Ben Winton’s throbbing bass lines are prominent throughout. On tracks like Don’t Come Any Closer and Lump In My Throat Jones’ vitriolic vocals give the songs an edge which they’ll do well to capture on record. We’re also treated to an untitled new song, which is arguably the high point of the night, thus displaying a quality control to justify their lucrative five-album deal with Parlophone.

What we have here is the complete package – a true rock ‘n’ roll group who are here to do just that. There are no frills, just a solid display of brilliant song writing and cohesion that you wouldn’t expect from a group so young. 2005 may well be their year, and my word don’t they know it.

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More on The Departure
Interview: The Departure
The Departure – Dirty Words
The Departure @ Garage, London