Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Ting Tings @ Astoria, London

22 May 2008

Their single That Is Not My Name is at Number 1. Their album We Started Nothing, produced under the auspices of ubiquitous Columbia head honcho Rick Rubin, is heading for the top of the album chart. The Ting Tings, a boy-girl pair of refugees from the defunct and dropped Dear Eskiimo, are riding high.

And as they tour the country riding a bubble of hype generated at the beginning of the year, it’s now that they choose to ask their major label to drop them.

According to that bastion of all things music the Daily Star, Jules De Martino said: “I think the second album will be really hard, so I’ve already asked the label to drop us again so we’ll have something to write about.”

Hopefully he’s being funny, because if The Ting Tings have already run out of things to say, they’re in trouble. Their first album isn’t exactly big on lyrics anyway. On the evidence of this 14+ show at the doomed London Astoria, this duo is solely about big bouncy beats held together with catchily melodic riffs. And while there’s really nothing all that wrong with that, it’s not likely to provide a solid foundation for longevity.

The first four tracks clattered amiably into each other. Katie White began the evening tinkling a little Korg and knocking over her mic stand a few times while De Martino switched between guitar and drums, ramping up the stickswork to a fine crescendo. Backing tracks bereft of musicians sufficed for supplementary electronic beats and basslines, while a big drum featuring THE TING TINGS in Rocky Horror-like font seemed to be more about inducing brand recognition than musical necessity, thwacked as it was by Katie on just one track.

With De Martino’s drumkit stage right to White’s vocal and guitar set-up stage left, the duo momentarily remind of The White Stripes, who played this stage some years ago and brought the roof down. But while Katie White does her best to engage her audience with excursions to the tops of boxes and speakers, she seems to be going through motions, as if that’s what she’s expected to do, rather than because she’s driven to it through any passion-induced urge.

In amongst the beat-rich numbers is their requisite slow song, called Traffic Light. White’s attempts at shooshing the babblesome crowd fall on distracted ears, but they get through it and, thankfully, back on to the party numbers the crowd came to see.

Yet for songs built around such obviously catchy rhythm structures, it was notable how few people were actually dancing. Here and there a lone pogoer would start to bounce up and down and then check themselves as they realised few people were joining them. It’s probably the case that, with the album on sale for just a few days, most of the songs are as yet unfamiliar. Plenty have a rammed-home, radio-friendly feel to them though, and with more airplay they’re bound to catch on, not least Shut Up And Let Me Go, which a fruity computer company rather likes to use in its advertising.

Just 40 minutes in to their set and That Is Not My Name was wheeled out, hurtled through in a whirl of simplistic musical brilliance and clapped off. And that was that. “Let’s fuck the encore and get a pint,” said somebody boozy slouching nearby as the beginnings of a doorward procession shuffled away. White and De Martino returned to play out with the album’s title track, but the exodus continued. Trouble was, this feelgood party band’s bars were already closed, and their clientele were taking their leave. Forty-five minutes after they’d appeared, The Ting Tings followed their example, having stopped short of convincing.

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More on The Ting Tings
The Ting Tings – Sounds From Nowheresville
The Ting Tings @ Astoria, London
The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing
The Ting Tings + Operator Please @ KOKO, London