Hadouken!, The Ghost Frequency, Shut Your Eyes And You'll Burst Into Flames
Holly Cruise 04/11/2007
If it is the duty of the young to keep the old away from their music and their gigs then it seems a new weaponry has entered their arsenal. Not content with being sneeringly derisive of the old and making music that would induce ear problems in the over 18s, now they aim to mock the elderly by triggering those irritating half-remembered memories which will infuriate until the exact origin of that vaguely familiar image is recalled. At least that's my latest theory after watching a bunch of teens (possibly pre-teens) prancing around in the dark at the half-finished Manchester Academy covered in neon glowsticks by the dozen. It looks just like an old TV show intro sequence, or possibly a channel ident, but I'm damned if I can remember which one.
In any case, it didn't last long. If there's one thing which characterised this gig, it was the constant rain of glowsticks pouring down on the heads of the bands as they played. Eventually most of the audience were shorn of their glow, whilst the stage probably needed sweeping between sets. But what about the music?
First up was Shut Your Eyes And You'll Burst Into Flames, demonstrating that it is perfectly possible to crossbreed The Rapture and At The Drive-In. Not as much cowbell as the former, nor as much ragged screeching as the latter, they still manage to pack in the rhythmic workouts which characterise The Rapture's best moment and the raw heavy energy of ATD-I at their best. Unfortunately, they've also got a tendency towards the sort of clunky is-it-meaningful-is-it-bollocks lyric which both bands are guilty of. Still, there's something there, possibly just potential at the moment but they seem capable of thinking outside the narrow nu-rave parameters which the shower of glow would appear to lump them with.
The Ghost Frequency seem to represent a shift in the whole nu-rave movement away from using scratchy post-punk indie as the basis for keyboard augmented fun, towards using heavier role models. Imagine early Idlewild with booming synths, or a punk-pop answer to Enter Shikari's hardcore with keyboards stylings and an obsession with zombies, monsters and great song titles like "Never Before Have I Seen A Man Alive That Looks So Exactly Like A Skeleton". Wordy though it is, along with previous single "Nightmare", it is a set highlight. Coming across as slightly less inventive than SYEAYBIF, they were more popular with the crowd (dammit, stop dancing like a half remembered neon memory), although it's hard to see them succeeding without the impact already made by more succesful heavy synth acts like the aforementioned Enter Shikari and tonight's headliners, Hadouken!
Hadouken! seem to be the latest indie Marmite. Some bemoan their, ahem, borrowings from the grime scene (although is it not a bit racist in itself to slag them off for taking grime influences because they're white?) and you can see why as James Smith drops the occasional clunker of a lyric (half of single "Liquid Lives"). But he's also capable of being quite good (the other half of 'Liquid Lives'), and the new songs take steps away from grime without losing their relatively distinctive edge. They manage to outclass both supports at their own game, which is promising in itself as neither are slouches.
They should be easily hateable, but there's genuine invention in Hadouken!'s game. They are so obviously the British equivalent of Linkin Park, it's untrue. A lot of young people are going to hate them for essentially being a pop band with slightly heavy guitars and more rapping than the usual, and a lot of old people will hate them for being too much like grime or metal. The rest of us, in the middle, should damn well give them a chance, because they're a good pop band. "Leap Of Faith" (their most sonically Linkin Park moment) is actually really rather great, especially live. "Dance Lesson" is responsible for one of the best lyrics of the year ("Don't have to look hard, you're not a gangsta/You live with your mum and you work in Asda"), whilst "That Boy That Girl" is a brilliant single. All are bashed out with energy to an already devoted crowd. It's hard to resist Smith - he comes across as someone who is enjoying making and performing his music, and it's infectious.
Not everyone will be convinced, and there will always be bands who will split opinion like this. I admit I didn't really want to like them (too much fawning NME hype) but sometimes the hype is right.
Now, anyone know how to wash glowstick juice out of clothes?