The Automatic, The View, The Horrors, Mumm-ra
Charlie Southwell 19/02/2007
Mumm-ra were playing as the doors opened, which was weird, and as I thought it was just a CD on the stereo as it was only 7:30 I went to queue to get a drink, but alas it was the band. This annoyed me, really, as it was the band I was most excited about seeing. But I see they have announced a tour and will be back to Exeter sometime soon [Cavern Wed April 18th]. I was told by people who caught a bit of their set that they were amazing.
So after that disappointment, there was...only more. The Horrors are just that. It surprised me that a magazine that is held in “high regard”, at least by some people, can even begin to say this band is good. The Intro was screechy, discordant, uninteresting and utterly rubbish, it wasn't just noise, it was worse. I've seen 8 years olds in a living room high on 28 E-number smarties ice cream and jelly that are more productive musically than this lot. There are so many teenage bands that would deserve this slot a hell of a lot more than these guys. They are unfortunately the victims of a sick sick PR company stunt and someone has failed to inform the band that it was a bloody joke.
Their arrogant student front man had the attitude of Donny Torette crossed with Johnny Borrell. Added to the fact you could never see the band due to the painful red strobe lights along with my bleeding ears made this band appear at top spot in my worst ever live performance list. It's just completely inexplicable to why they appear on a sold out tour roster. When the drums fell in time, which wasn't all that often, with what I think was guitars, (it may as well have been a fart put through an amp for the sound quality) there was simple 12 bar blues songs there, but it's not like they are pushing any boundaries except those of decency. To be honest I can't put into words how bad they were, and it pains me to even think about it.
So, next The View, a radio friendly band, of whom there wasn't much hope, and after The Horrors, my ears needed draining, so anything was a welcome release. In fairness The View walked on looking nervous, in front of the mainly student crowd. But they produced a great set, clearly rocked up from their studio attempts at the same songs. Anything would have been amazing after the Horrors, but these guys live were pretty damn good. Vocals were a bit muddy and the mix was poor, but it didn't deter the whole room to jump and make the floor feel like it was going to cave in.
In between songs they all fiddled with their instruments like a college band might. But it brought them back down to earth and made them seem like people, rather than making them seem less professional. A reasonably standard rock outfit, that will no doubt improve with their time on the road, and get used to the onstage help from roadies, they did look at times pretty confused by the whole situation. I could grow to like this band despite the commercial tinge their recordings have been given.
The Automatic were a band that exuded charisma and a grounded persona; the touring has paid off to make this band hugely professional yet still retaining the madness. An energetic performance by Pennie made this band an exciting outfit, despite the obvious rage when everyone went crazy for the big singles. Nothing from this band will top Monster or Raoul. Although, that said, if they had played “Gold-digga” I think that may have surpassed the attention those tracks got. Instead they settled with a new cover, and it was a fantastic rendition of Talking Heads cover “Life During Wartime”. During which the 7ft PA Speakers were no match for a leaping Pennie, who, whence atop the PA, sang to the crowd on the balcony only inches away from where he stood.
All in all a pretty good set, and got a good response, but notably half the crowd left before The Automatic even came on. Their new song was more mature and slightly less nu-rave. But I can't see a grown up Automatic selling as many CDs. This band is all about Pennie, despite not being the traditional front man he had the crowd eating out of his hands. The sound was perfect for The Automatic, another sign of the maturity they have gained by being on the road. Bassist and frontman Rob looked rather forlorn on stage, maybe missing home? A fluent bouncing set wrapped up with “Recover”, dishing out armfuls of smash hit singles, Pennie atop giant speakers, and a glimpse of the new material - but when your old stuff is so well received, who knows when that will be finished?