Live at Cockpit on Thursday, 21st September 2006
As support band Sound Team launch into their brief but stunningly good set it is evident that this band are meant for big things, even despite the slightly dodgy name. They encapsulate the ideal support band experience; the one where you find yourself singing along to songs you've never heard before simply due to their melodic appeal. They look the part as well with the lead singer decked out in skinny jeans and curly mop contrasted starkly with the lead guitarist whose sandy shaggy hair and plaid shirt give the impression of a Southern-hick who on a whim decides to give the guitar a go apart from his considerable talent. They're clearly here to impress, wiping sweat impatiently off their brows; an unwelcome intrusion upon their task of putting on a damn good show. The songs are hammered out, spiky and short, teasingly leaving the crowd begging for more. Luckily we have the headliners to placate our thirst for mature indie rock with a hard-edged punk twist.
The Walkmen were perhaps never destined for mainstream widespread success with their brooding, slow-burning brand of guitar music. They're a band whose sound is best shown off over the course of an album, each track building on the previous one to create layers of noise, leaving you whirling in a world of psychedelic, genre-defying guitar music. The set tonight is no exception. The first few songs serve to warm up the crowd and then just as the enthusiasm starts to wilt slightly they pull out their corker of a song 'The Rat' and the energy is restored. 'The Rat' is by far their most successful, recognisable song with beautifully quirkily named Hamilton Leithauser thundering out the inspired vocals culminating in the supremely pissed-off chorus line 'You've got a nerve to be asking a favour'. It's a shame they haven't got more songs like this because they pull off bitter adult angst beautifully., managing to sound aloof rather than pathetic. They ooze cool with an unapproachable attitude that seems to shun praise but only serves to further entrance the audience. As most sets go The Walkmen are a definite cut above the rest. However, they set their own precedent and so the standards are high; a lot is expected from them. Despite the fact that tonight they perform entirely professionally there is a perhaps a slight lack-lustre approach, common to most bands who have been touring interminably, but disappointing for the average Walkmen fan who expects more. They don't play many of their new songs most off their 2004 release 'Bows and Arrows' but at least this means they've honed their set to perfection and the crowd can all identify the tracks rather than patiently listening to a whole host of unfamiliar songs. Overall the set is impeccable as always; their track record live remains unblemished. The Walkmen have set the bar high much to the anxiety of their contemporaries. May their reign continue.