Live at Cockpit on Friday, 20th January 2006
So is this the beginning of the big time? You chat with some fool on the CDUK sofas. You are spotted on the high street in The Sun's Bizarre column. The Sunday magazines show aspiring handbookers how to achieve your oh-so-happening scruffbag look. Your music no longer belongs just to the fans but filters endlessly from shopping malls and soundtracks TV montages. New single Commercial Breakdown (b/w The Way It Is) is threatening to break it wide open for The Sunshine Underground and this, their first headline gig in the Cockpit's main room, was their adopted homecoming.
Support act Harrisons are a well-drilled, straight up indie-rock band. They were visibly frustrated at the lack of crowd appreciation but these guys were not well matched up with the headliners. The songs came up a little short on the night though the last track, new single Blue Note, proved a notable exception. Maybe this was just an off-night.
Claimed as one of their own by the Leeds crowd, Shrewbury's finest hit the stage just after nine for a short sharp set. With a sound similar to the New York bands (!!!, LCD Soundsystem, Liars first album) labelled as punk-funk or disco-punk, The Sunshine Underground look set to add a new chapter in the ongoing "New Yorkshire" success story. (As a quick aside, am I the only one confused by the reported resurgence of the NME under serial talking head Conor McNicholas? The only decent content is the ads these days.)
After last month's breakthrough performance supporting LCD Soundsystem, tonight's performance was more restrained. Barring singer Craig Wellington's obligatory cowbell frenzy on Raise The Alarm, the SU seemed content to stay low key and soak up the crowd's appreciation. Bassist Daley Smith allowed himself a rare grin as the crowd took over the vocals on Commercial Breakdown, momentarily halting his solemn channelling of The Clash's Paul Simonen. His base (heavy in the mix but funky and danceable) really makes the band's sound distinctive.
The band's output is not satisfactorily represented by Commercial Breakdown, which is a more obvious and less nuanced track than even its own b-side. The seven or eight songs played displayed a great deal of promise and hopefully they will not take the temptation to drift in to Virgin Radio music-lite territory in order to shift a million copies. Golden confetti and crowd surfers drifted over the fans as the last notes of closer Raise The Alarm rang out, and a word of mouth buzz was beginning. Flooding out of the doors at a ridiculously early ten o'clock, the Leeds glitterati have never had it as good as they have it right now. Catch these guys before it's too late and you have to go to some non-descript Manchester stadium.