The Noisettes, Tiffany Page
Tim Miller 24/02/2010
The Noisettes live are a very different prospect these days. Their incredibly well-received second album Wild Young Hearts was shorn of the rattling blues-punk that captured their enthusiastic spirit on (poorly-titled) first album What's the Time, Mr Wolf?, but it gave rise to a slew of hit singles driven by the Mazda-sponsored success of 'Don't Upset the Rhythm (Go Baby Go)' - a single so good, they squeezed both hooks into the title for good measure.
Before a quarter of tonight's expectant crowd have drifted in though, there's a Cockney acoustic guitarist plus drummer whose moniker escapes me - sorry boys - coming on like Jack Penate doing a local knees-up. Despite the basic two instrument set up, they make a decent noise and offer two or three decent tunes, though the best one pinches its melody from Arctic Monkeys' 'Fron the Ritz to the Rubble'.
They precede tonight's support act 'proper', one Miss Tiffany Page. The 23-year old guitar-wielding songstress - she writes her own decidedly-rocky material - faces an uphill task in 2010. The year has already been given over to paving the streets with Gould and Diamonds (for Ellie and Marina respectively), and Tiffany Page won't have had anything near their considerable marketing support. Yet.
With a backing band of three raven-haired boys clad all in black t-shirts (Tiffany and the Ravens, anyone?), the look is a little bit generic, as is the two-tone first single 'Walk Away'. It is saved, though, by Page's strong voice, capable of switching the emphasis of a song in one line. Comparisons, for a change, are difficult to draw: one moment it's No Doubt-era Gwen Stefani, the next it's Shania Twain or Debbie Harry - Chrissie Hynde is also a favourite benchmark, judging by previous press.
Regardless, from husky whisperings to a syrupy-thick scream, Page transforms what could easily be rather ordinary British pop-punk songs into edgier rock territory. Although some touch on the heavier, faster reaches, the most appealing tonight is the country-infused 'On Your Head', Page's smouldering voice giving the song a swagger, inspiring her three support players to come out of their shells as the set progresses.
It's something the leading lady could learn to do a little herself. When she's holding her guitar, Tiffany Page seems content to sing from behind it, as though she's too modest to truly believe in her obviously gifted voice. Quite happy to crack a smile with her guitarist, she looks less than relaxed facing the fast-expanding audience as more punters position themselves for the main draw. It seems more that Tiffany Page is only just adjusting to this level of limelight, an adjustment she might have to make a whole lot quicker if her determined brand of pop-rock takes off.
A lack of self-confidence, I would wager, is not a problem that Shingai Shoniwah has ever suffered from. Noisettes were last down South three years ago, at Mr Kyps, a wild-eyed trio that sparked life into the drab surroundings. Now, they greet the grandeur of Bournemouth's former Opera House in kind - about 20 minutes late - Shingai resplendent in humbug-mint tights, velvety jacket and a banana hat, while guitarist Dan Smith is smooth in shades and a black/white suit get up.
They kick off with the whirring sophomore album opener 'Sometimes', with the singer materialising from within clouds of smoke, the band briefly silhouetted against a plush theatre curtain. Usually renowned for her antics galloping about the stage, Shingai begins clutching her mic stand tight, but after their stately opening, they spin into the classic-sounding single 'Wild Young Hearts', its instant refrain of “la la la”s rousing the crowd into a cycle of swaying, singing and clapping.
At points throughout the night, however, the crowd seem unusually sober, as if Noisettes' wealth of different styles on their breakthrough second album causes uncertainty. The three-piece plus backing singers storm through the upbeat numbers with Dan Smith virtuoso on lead guitar, but for every 'Saturday Night' that quickens the pulse, the quieter moments - 'Atticus', for instance - ask that the crowd stand and watch.
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. In some ways, the band's renaissance from punky upstarts to genre-crossing experts is only truly appreciated on record - and Wild Young Hearts is some record. Virtually every song has single potential, and all of them, I think, make it into their setlist tonight, interspersed with unique covers of The Killers' 'When You Were Young' and Bee Gees-penned 'Chain Reaction'.
Noisettes' most famous hit, inspiring the crowd to indeed 'go baby, go baby, go!', causes relative pandemonium, while songs like 'So Complicated' and '24 Hours Ago' more than hold their own against the anthems. The stunning Motown-esque 'Never Forget You', another recent hit single, sees Shingai grinning broadly while she eloquently sings the chorus back to the crowd; perhaps realising the poignancy of the line, ”Always remember me”.
It's unlikely that many people will forget her - as a frontwoman she is indomitable, returning for the encore dangled over the old theatre's balcony railings, scooting around the stage in between her vocal duties, and offering profuse, breathless thanks to the crowd for coming - and it's unlikely that their run of superb songs from Wild Young Hearts will be forgotten quickly either. Most people here tonight might well be unfamiliar with 'Sister Rosetta', Noisettes' brilliant riff-driven breakthrough single from 2007 that closes the show, but they show their appreciation for the band's newly found stardom with an ecstatic, clamorous ovation. Damn, these Wild Young Hearts.
Photography by Adam Prosser