Live at The Library on Friday, 15th April 2011
It's mid-April and by now all the students have well and truly buggered off leaving Hyde Park a ghost town (albeit a decidedly sunny ghost town). For nights like 360 Club, which thrive on student input, the exodus means tense times for promoters so it's refreshing to see that up in the Library, it's just as busy as ever.
First up are relative newcomers Andy Doonan & The Lightwalks for a set of heartfelt indie pop. Considering it's their 3rd gig, it's a tight and well-written set (though the swing feel in the last couple of songs did flummox the drummer) and Andy has the confidence of a much more experienced front man. It's nothing new and not musically complex but it does the job and tracks like 'The Woman That You Are' have a simple, endearing charm in the McFly vain. All the workings of a great band are in there, I'd just love to hear them be a bit more inventive with the set-up (and by more inventive I don't just mean, 'add a synth'): a couple of well-placed stops suggest these lads have it in them.
Over to Deadwall then, for something a bit more edgy. Songs about Syphilis (not exclusively, mind) from an even more post-punk Max? Park, I'd like to believe that my previous statement about synths not constituting edginess still stands. Yes, the synth was an integral part of the sound but there's something in the jarring harmonies and infectious rhythms that spreads throughout the entire band. It's cool and colourful and more than a little bit 80s so there's a lot to like about Deadwall. An assured performance for only their fourth gig as a band though the guitar tech milling about the stage felt like a bit much - nothing wrong with being prepared, I suppose...
Audio Republic have a very familiar sound, and from the reactions of some in the room, a very loyal fanbase. Punchy 90s rock with plenty of balls played by experienced gents a tad older than the usual baby-faced quiffsters currently doing the rounds. Refreshingly dated is the phrase I would use - back to the simplicity of an Oasis chorus but with all the beef of Skunk Anansie's backline. As for the crowd, the Audio Republic faithful showed an intimidating display of support which proved a little too enthusiastic for some of the clientele. In any case, a compelling set even if it's one which the intelligentsia won't be salivating over anytime soon - not that Audio Republic would care.
Ending the night with more post-punk energy is Phono Arts Theatre (a name which proved difficult for the previous frontmen attempting a bit of Band Chivalry). A lot of Franz Ferdinand and the like in their brand of noise, they've got an impressive wall of sound. Some consistent tuning issues in the main vocals didn't detract too much from the overall effect but they might be something to work on. Also, I didn't feel like the onstage energy matched the energy in the music - there's plenty of scope in that sound to be rocking out with, or without, One's cock out. In any case, a solid end to an excellent night.