Live Music + Gig Reviews

The View @ KOKO, London

10 February 2009

After the release of their long-awaited but hugely disappointing second album Which Bitch? it was good to see The View can still hack it live on stage.

Preceded by the moody electro-dance of Tommy Sparks and the retro punk rock of Twisted Wheel, the ragamuffin Dundee foursome casually sauntered on stage half an hour late, looking as if they were surprised to be there after missing a couple of nights’ sleep living it up.

But despite their somewhat shambolic appearance, they proceeded to put on a fine performance with plenty of passion, albeit one short on subtlety.

After shouting out “Are you ready, London?” frontman Kyle Falconer and the rest of the band (backed by a keyboardist) proved they certainly were – and the audience were up for it too, especially the heaving crowd in the mosh pit whose over-excitement resulted in a few premature ejections before the end of the full-throttle 75-minute set.

As expected, The View showcased tracks from the new album, which often came across better live than recorded, with the band’s edgy spontaneity paying dividends. The anarchic energy of opening song Glass Smash was greeted with plastic beer mugs thrown high in the air as pent-up energy was released, with roadies busily mopping up the lager spills on stage. The rousing football crowd-pleaser 5 Rebbeccas added to the uproar, played with an adrenaline-fuelled buzz.

Other highlights included the quasi-rap rocker One Off Pretender, the tastily tuneful Realisation and the bristling electrical voltage of current single Shock Horror, but Give Back the Sun still sounded bland and Typical Time 2 still sounds like messing around. There was plenty of messing around in the crowd too with body-surfing antics stopping security from getting bored.

Aptly described by Falconer as “oldies but goodies”, the songs from The View’s excellent debut album Hats off to the Buskers were greeted with massive enthusiasm, especially the singles: the singalong Same Jeans, glam-rock punk Superstar Tradesman, the skiffly Skag Trendy and acoustically melodic Face For The Radio. Hearing these again is a reminder of the genuine songwriting talent the band has, even if they don’t seem to know which direction to go.

The band obviously love playing to their fans. A few times Falconer swapped lead for backing vocals (and rhythm guitar for bass) with Kieren Webster, while Pete Reilly’s angular lead guitar was impressively sharp and bare-torsoed Steven Morrison beat the hell out of his drums. The occasional accompaniment of a trombonist and a string trio didn’t make much impact though as they tended to be drowned out by the surrounding elecricity, but the beautiful string arrangement in Unexpected emerged strongly as did the pizzicato in Distant Doubloon, a strange sea shanty played here with just Falconer, plus some spirited audience handclapping.

Even more unexpected was the final number, with only Falconer and Morrison staying on stage to perform a charmingly alternative account of Oasis‘s Don’t Look Back In Anger. The View evidently like to take some risks – and even if they don’t always come off, you have a feeling that they have plenty more to offer in the future.

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More on The View
The View – Ropewalk
The View – Bread & Circuses
The View @ KOKO, London
The View – Which Bitch?
The View – Hats Off To The Buskers