Gig Review: The Sunshine Underground @ The O2 Academy
By Glen Keogh on May 3, 2012 in Music
Although they haven’t been around for too long in the grand scheme of things, it seems The Greeting Committee have already outgrown tonight’s label of ‘opening band’. Together, the six chaps create a teeth-rattling slab of blues-rock which has the swagger and snarl of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the dizziness of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and at their sky-grabbing, string-heavy, chorus-chanting best they even touch the heady heights of early Verve.
While there’s nothing new, there’s also nothing wrong with a band willing to go for a ‘Richard Ashcroft moment’ and it shows their ambition matches their on-stage style and occasional ferocity. A forthcoming UK tour should hopefully garner them the attention their live show deserves.
Now it’s not their fault, but unfortunately saying “Athletes in Paris” in a packed Academy 2 happens to sound exactly like “that’s embarrassing”. Honestly, say it.
It also just so happens that this band of five wannabe tween sensations have modelled themselves on a ‘Fall Out Boy from South Shields’ look, prompting me to check if it was my friend or I who had misheard.
But you shouldn’t rely on first impressions so I was willing to give the lads another chance.
A succession of sickly sweet pop songs faux-rapped over in a Sunderland accent might do it for some but certainly not for this reviewer. It’s a shame that on record they do their craft a lot more justice.
Proclaiming onstage that “this next one is about shagging” managed to erode any sort of toe-tapping doubt that maybe this was all tongue-in-cheek irony. A part of me still wishes it was.
On to The Sunshine Underground. I remember seeing them here at the tender age of sixteen. I was squashed against the front railings, sober as a judge, covered in other people’s piss. It was great.
Now I’m old and cynical but it seems their disco-pumped indie is drawing the same punters. A new generation are against the railings waiting to wail every word back but they’re struggling as the band are mostly previewing songs from an unreleased third album.
Eventually, tracks from debut album Raise The Alarm draw the crowd into rapturous sing-along. A young, topless lad crowdsurfing over the front row during Put You In Your Place brought a solitary tear to this aging reviewers eye. This is what gigs used to be like.
Although it wasn’t all about mid-noughties nostalgia, as to their new fans this performance from the Leeds trio could have come across as uninspiring.
The new tracks made adequate use of the band’s best asset – Craig Ellington’s vocals, and included further nods to the electronica which influenced them initially, but they always felt like average foreplay leading up to what everyone had paid for.
It’s still obvious why they were so popular and hopefully the new album might reach those heady heights again, but for The Sunshine Underground, like me, the glory days may well be over.
Image courtesy of Daniel Robson.
- Sunshine Underground Strip Back In Sunderland