Gig Review: The Chapman Family @ The Head Of Steam
By Glen Keogh on June 21, 2012 in Music
The funny thing about gigs, and I’m not sure if everybody knows this, is that they’re a visual AND aural experience. I could hand-pick maybe a dozen acts from the north-east who will go out of their way to ‘put on a show’ and, God forbid; ‘entertain’ a paying crowd.
I won’t hand-pick them because you’ll say I’ve missed some out or disagree and we haven’t got time for that. The point is, at the Head of Steam on a pleasant Wednesday evening three bands made the most of their time in the spotlight (well, fairylight as it happened) and ensured their crowd didn’t look away for a minute.
There’s a knack to making your set enviously watchable. You can use video, your clothes, your dance moves. You can bite the heads off live animals. But you’ve still got to tread a fine line to keep an air of respectability. Young Gateshead three-piece Warning! tip-toed along that line for most of their nigh-on forty minute set which almost crossed into Pheonix Nights levels of cringe with questions of “how are we Newcastle!?” from their vest-sporting frontman. Luckily, the band possess the kind of supreme riffage which could give fellow Geordies In Oceans a run for their money while still maintaining a Foo Fighters-esque pop sensibility.
The lyrics are more likely to be used as captions for teenage girls Facebook photos than quoted in magazines, the drummer’s sparkly tie needs to go and you don’t need to keep asking us how we’re doing but it didn’t stop the set being immensely watchable. With a couple of tweaks and perhaps a look back to the time when they were ‘shy to the point of endearment’ rather than being cocky to the point of arrogance, this band could really make their mark on a tired north-east and national rock scene.
I wasn’t familiar with Tissue Culture prior to the gig so I was pleasantly surprised to be treated to a six piece who displayed a level of musicianship and professionalism which again seemed beyond their years. They seemed a more fitting build-up to the new incarnation of headliners The Chapman Family – all moody keyboards and spat vocals and featured the kind of enigmatic lead singer who managed to be effortlessly charismatic despite coming across as shy. One of those ‘tortured soul – release through music’ kind of chaps. But not like a twat. Even with a few guitar problems early on the group eased into their set. If you like The Chapman Family you will like these.
Previous Chapman Family gigs tended to keep the crowd engrossed through their dress in black shirts and ties; they looked sultry and gothic and they were fucking mental. Two of these points still stand, but the five-piece have toned down the punk, singer Kingsley isn’t so inclined to strangle himself with microphone cord and instead he hovers side-on to the audience over his keyboard and croons songs from new EP Cruel Britannia in a Stockton-tinged baritone.The songs still hurtle along through fuzz, feedback and occasional guttural yelps from founding members Kingsley and Pop but everything seems a bit more, well, stable. Don’t think this has tainted the band though- if anything they’re better. They’re assured and confident – tracks like perennial crowd-pleaser Kids have been dropped, replaced by tracks from the new EP which is a more mature collection of songs than those from their debut album released last year. There were flashes of Von Bondies, touches of Interpol and Jesus & Mary Chain similarities. Even closer Anxiety which often seemed out of place in their sets is given a renewed grizzly vigour, beset by Kingsley now with microphone in hand, cable around throat and hand in crowd as each verse is sung more passionately than the last.
The Chapman Family have something to say and gigs like this make me want to believe it all.
- VIDEO: The Chapman Family – Adult