Nottingham’s Social is something of a legendary venue in indie folklore – host of early performances of virtually everyone (The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand for starters) before they hit festival sing-along and arena packing fame, the 190 capacity shoebox is second to none for the viewing up and coming talent of the guitar rock variety.
And tonight there was a distinct feeling that the two bands on show – London based sextet The Fallout Trust and local 80’s revivalists Computerman – are set for much bigger things than not-quite-full bars on a Wednesday night.
Although it’s true to say that the electro pop road is one that’s been explored by arguably too many bands of late, who all create songs of little substance and questionable longevity, the same cannot be said for Computerman.
Any doubts that anyone may have had were crushed as soon as they took to stage and launched into Watch More Television. It was a shuddering opener – full of JCB sized guitar riffs, aggressive drumming, omnipresent keyboards and impassioned singing, it’s got more bite to it than all their synth-wielding peers put together. Granted it may not be entirely original, but when delivered with such conviction, this pales into insignificance.
And it wasn’t a one off – running through their set with a passion and zeal you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a support band, every song stood out as a potential single. The likes of Neon, No More Broken Hearts and closer Lights Out displayed their strengths perfectly – complementary vocals from their two front men, one huskier than the other, water tight musicianship and crucially, a way with a tune. Ultimately, their wide-ranging sounds were just too big for The Social.
The stage was thus set for headliners The Fallout Trust to round off the evening. Their music diverges greatly from that of Computerman, although it’s no less exciting, something they displayed with a set littered with material largely lifted from their hugely promising forthcoming debut LP In Case Of The Flood.
This is atmospheric, violin-aided rock in the mould of Kid A/Amnesiac era Radiohead, Hope Of The States and The Coral before they were lobotomised (i.e. their first album). There’s also more than a fair share of Bowie in singer Joe Winter’s vocals, making them a hugely appealing prospect on paper.
Thankfully in reality their songs were never less than memorable, albeit a little limp on occasions – opener When We Are Gone, for example, although very competently delivered, lacked a degree of spark and vitality, something which could have been said for several more of the tracks on show. At times it felt very much like just another run through of their rehearsed set.
Still, there were enough moments that warranted real attention – the more urgent, jerky numbers such as Cover Up The Man and Washout possessed a real swagger, and former single Before The Light Goes was a moment of serene magnificence.
Winter, sporting what can only be described as Hitler Youth chic, is an engaging, if a little unnerving, front man – delivering the choruses with sparse displays of emotion and a fixated, almost demonic glare, he is no doubt the main attraction here. Elsewhere, not a duff note was delivered by his colleagues behind him.
In short, it was a thoroughly professional and workmanlike display from a band that promise much in 2006, although it wasn’t quite as good as it could have been. It was never bad, however, and it’s perhaps churlish to expect utter brilliance from a group in relative infancy. It’s just they didn’t do thier album total justice, which was a slight shame. We can take comfort in the fact that there undoubtedly is a truly great band lurking in there somewhere – and when they realise this, perhaps by truly letting go, the results could well be spectacular.