Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Paddingtons @ Water Rats, London

14 July 2005

London’s cool and fabulous gathered to see up-and-coming indie punk five-piece The Paddingtons at The Water Rats – a venue that can closely rival Camden’s Barfly for spotting the next big thing.

Pete Doherty look-a-likes were in abundance at the packed out venue, which is hardly surprising considering that The Paddingtons owe a debt to Doherty’s former band in terms of sound and attitude and are part of the London scene that The Libertines spawned – the same scene that also brought The Others and Thee Unstrung to the attention of Poptones’ label boss Alan McGee – and now he has snapped up The Paddingtons.

While The Others have so far been gathering the most attention from that trio, the Hull quintet proved tonight that they could be hot on their heels after playing an energy-fuelled set that had a distinctive buzz in the air. A famous face in the crowd is usually a sure-fire sign that a band is going places and the presence of the Pet Shop Boys‘ Neil Tennant mingling with the trendy crowd didn’t go undetected.

The young band – singer Tom Atkin was celebrating his 21st birthday on the night – played with extreme self-assurance and a musical tightness that would put some of their contemporaries to shame. It was an authentic punk rock display and given that none of the band were even conceived when punk rock first shocked the world, The Paddingtons were either born in the wrong generation or have closely observed footage of their idols.

Singer Atkins bears a spooky resemblance to Sid Vicious, from his hairstyle to his swagger to his vacant stare, but, it is fair to say, demonstrates more musical competence. The Paddingtons mix up sounds of The Sex Pistols with the The Clash and although those who saw it first time around would no doubt dismiss them as punk pretenders, for a new generation of teens, who have grown up with bland guitar bands and samey pop, this is the next best thing.

The whole gig was an adrenaline rush from start to finish and it would be hard to find an audience more animated for an act so newly established, anywhere else in London. Although the crowd weren’t always fully attentive, they were 100% engaged with the experience. The Paddingtons offer music to share with your mates. It’s a live experience to dance to, snog to and mosh to and by the end of it all it feels like you’ve attended a lively house party. The intimate setting of the Water Rats lended itself perfectly to the gig as it would be hard to imagine The Paddingtons achieving the same connection with their audience on a bigger platform.

There’s little variety in the music of The Paddingtons but there is plenty time for them to develop their sound. At the moment, though, they know what works for them and while their fans continue to enjoy it, it won’t hurt to stick with it for the time being.

After the gig a teenage girl shouted “I love them” on the way to the toilets. It was a sentiment shared by the majority of the crowd. For anyone who has mourned the demise of The Libertines, The Paddingtons have the potential to fill that void.

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More on The Paddingtons
The Paddingtons @ The Yacht Club, Victoria Embankment, London
The Paddingtons – First Comes First
The Paddingtons @ Water Rats, London