Rachel Cranshaw 01/06/2004
The audience packed into Southampton's premier (and only) mainstream-ish music venue the Guildhall tonight is somewhat predictable. It is predominantly comprised of teenagers, mostly in loud, excitable groups, the kind that (unnecessarily) seem to intimidate the various adults lingering nervously around the bar. However, as tonight's band is the first decent one to come to town for a long while, age gaps are no match for the atmosphere here.
Tonight's band is Electric 6. Although arguably a novelty band, with their two chart hits 'Danger High Voltage' and 'Gay Bar' and then apparent non-existence, their album is of high quality, and they are immense fun both to watch and listen to. Although their success is somewhat recent, they've been floating around on the (superb) Detroit scene for a while, and have broken through internationally in the wake of pioneer fellow Detroit rockers The White Stripes.
Support band The Fallout Trust put on an ok show, with in-offensive songs and a singer not unlike Matt Bellamy of Muse, but it's Electric 6 that are the main attraction tonight. They eventually stride onstage and launch straight into their set. Although it's clear that a lot of the audience have come purely for Danger High Voltage and Gay Bar, they are still immersed in the rest of the setlist, and rightly so. The band are clearly aware of this, and play an energetic fusion of the best rock the Guildhall has heard in ages, saving their party tricks until later.
Bassist John Dequindre wanders to the front of the stage to play numerous top-notch solos, and between that, the music, and too-adorable-for-words lead singer Dick Valentine, the crowd are kept well entertained. Unlike some bands that are big on the rock scene at the moment, Electric 6 play their songs with a refreshing impulsive sound, rather than just churning out music that sounds exactly the same as it does on the album. But the first real treat of the evening arrives in the opening bar of Danger High Voltage. Naturally, the crowd go wild, and the band lap up the praise, making it definitely one of the stand-out numbers of the night.
The tension for Gay Bar is building, and when Dick drawls 'North Bar, South Bar', in reference to the venue's two bars, there is frustration when the riff we are all waiting for does not follow this. The band exit for a break before returning for a much-anticipated encore. First up is a song about Detroit, dedicated to Detroit. Another number, and then, finally: 'North Bar. South Bar.' Dick doesn't even have to finish the sentence, the audience are more than happy to do the honours, and then are promptly greeted with That Riff, much to everyone's delight. Gay Bar is fantastic, so highly charged and catchy. They play a couple more songs to finish off, and then leave to rapturous applause.
The audience are left feeling hyper, and thrilled after having witnessed an energetic and rewarding show. So are Electric 6 just a two-trick pony? Maybe so, but those two tricks, added to a collection of fine quality rock songs, make them a band worth seeing any day.