Billed by the likes of NME as the hottest new indie-rock band of 2007, The Pigeon Detectives lived up to their label of ‘band most likely to’ with debut album Wait for Me. The lyrics may be basic and the music unsophisticated, but its 12 slices of infectious pop-punk are served up with killer hooks and rousing choruses, performed with irresistibly energetic enthusiasm. On the middle night of their sell-out three performances at the Forum the band showed they could deliver this high-octane package as a live experience too.
They were supported by no less than three acts, so the expectant crowd had to wait till 10 before the headliners came on. First up were The Wallbirds, a Northern trio peddling their own brand of country, folk and blues, in an upbeat even chirpy style. Promoting imminent single The Avenue, the band has a vaguely Dylan-ish sound which is agreeable enough but tends to wash over you rather than get under your skin.
Second support Micky P Kerr has been around on the Leeds music scene for a few years (like The Pigeon Detectives), performing an eclectic mix of comedy, poetry, folk and rap, but here the emphasis was on hip hop and soul. Backed by his band the Dudes (including horn section/backing singers), he added some offbeat humour to proceedings without making much of a musical impact.
One Night Only – yet another Yorkshire band – completed the somewhat disappointing support, with their rather bland blend of indie-pop (including soft-edged keyboard accompaniment) which sounds like so many other bands. Current single You and Me is tuneful enough but easily forgotten.
At last The Pigeon Detectives took the stage, bang on time, and started with a bang: I Found Out (previous single now re-released in a new version by Stephen Street) had the crowd moving straight away and chanting the “Going out with” chorus. The band hit the ground running and didn’t stop – they don’t do slow numbers. In their 55-minute set they basically played all their material so far, fast and furious, with no frills and few pauses for breath, in a stream of adrenaline matched by the delirious fans in the mosh pit.
Frontman Matt Bowman seemed to be supercharged, swinging his microphone around like it was the new Olympic sport and outdoing even Ricky Wilson in his hyperactive bounding around the stage and climbing all over the set. He sang pretty well too, encouraging the audience to join in whenever possible. Lead guitarist Oliver Main was on sharp form, playing the short solos with blistering relish. The band packed plenty of punch.
True, there is not much variety in The Pigeon Detectives’ music – yet – with almost all the songs being rhapsodic bursts of youthful sexual energy about going out or breaking up with girls. But their appeal is instantaneous, like a carbohydrate rush. Tracks like Caught in Your Trap, Take Her Back and I Can’t Control Myself (with Bowman half-pulling off his shirt) went down a storm. Yes, little originality is on offer (for example, you can hear the influence of The Clash in Romantic Type and The Undertones in I’m Always Right) but the tunes are so catchy it doesn’t matter – and the people at the Forum certainly weren’t complaining when they went back out into the wintry streets of Kentish Town.