A rare chance to see a band perform in the humble surrounds in which they aired their early gigs.
Date: May 8, 2014
From headlining Nottingham’s cavernous Rock City to playing a tiny, compact stage at The Bodega, Rock City’s tiny little brother. What has happened to Nottingham’s great white hope? Have the consumers had their fill of Nottingham youngsters in the form of the ever-rising star that is Jake Bugg and the glamorous and colourful Radio 1-friendly Indiana?
The answer, quite rightly, is a resounding no. The fact is, the band have new material, and this gig is a chance not only for them to go back to their roots, and play a venue in which it all began for them, but also an opportunity to road test that new material to friends, family and local devotees. And judging by this performance, that ‘tricky second album’ that so many bands struggle to hurdle could, with a bit of polish, a lick of paint, and a smidgen of luck, be the one that grabs the mainstream’s attention and holds it with a firm grip.
First out of the newbie cannon is Sin, a heavy-sounding, almost math-rock blitz of confusing time signatures and glitchy synth bleeps which retains the band’s rich and harmonious “ooh-ah”s.
Do The Right Thing, fittingly, is exactly the right thing at this point; a jaunty, ska-infused indie-disco shuffle that repeats those trademark “Ooh-ah”s.
“We’re Dog is Dead, we’re from Nottingham”, announces lead Dog Rob needlessly. “Who’s seen us before?”. It’s a daft question, as the crowd unite in a “hell yeah” kind of response, this coming before the whole place jumps in unison for River Jordan.
“We have new material which is more rock”, imparts Rob. And he’s not kidding. Hotel inherits the bluesy fug of the Black Keys, with dense, grimy guitars and lazy keys. But again, on Talk Through The Night, that glacial guitar is back, highlighting the disparate styles of the old and new.
Whether it’s their new-found darkness or a lack of available clothing, the entire band are dressed in a grey/black uniform. It’s befitting the new, sterner direction, but the likes of Two Devils demands a more colourful apparel such is its candy-pop core and danceable vibe.
“It’s saxophone time” is a far better catchphrase than “It’s Chico Time”, and it heralds the start of two songs: Any Movement, with it’s slacker vibe and listless groove, but more importantly, it welcomes the amazing, all-encompassing Glockenspiel Song. The entire crowd, appetites already whet by that sexy sax, sing along to its mantra: “Oh this town, it’s so electric/Since I got the feeling I can’t shut down”, before keyboardist Joss Van Wilder flings himself crowd-wards, lost in music.
In the encore, they invade the crowd, performing a plaintive, acoustic version of Young, which is magnificently moving and delicate.
They end with Teenage Daughter, a searching, euphoric song which ticks every box in the ‘anthemic finish’ category. Chiming guitars, pulsing rythems, soaring vocals…it ‘s all there.
If, by playing the snug Bodega – a cauldron of sweat and adoration tonight – the assumption is that the band are heading backwards, re-visit that thought, because this band are in a state of flux, with the emphasis on rock.