Angels & Airwaves + Le Blorr @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – April 13th 2012

Le Blorr (stop tittering at the back, there! It might well be Essex Cajun for ‘Bastard love-childs of rock ‘n roll’ for all we know) are a three-piece of Floridean extraction and kicked-up one hell of a Space-Rock racket mashed-up with grizzly swamp Jack White guitar expositions. It ranged from that to anthemic Hawkwind-like OMD anthems and Country/delic Euro-synth affectations with the bassist giving occasional vent to Bill Wyman postures. Now, this practice of name-checking the headline band (several times tonight) is questionable. If not ingratiating – then it certainly seems to steal a support-band’s own thunder? Discuss.

Judging by tonight’s bursting, sweaty sell-out gig – from mosh-pit up to the sit-down crusties in the balconies – there’s no disputing that Angels & Airwaves’ US alt.Rock attracts a ferally loyal audience whose verse and chorus accompaniment is so accurate and adulatory as to almost suggest stalking. In the nicest possible way, mind.

Further more, it is unequivocal that A&A have shrewdly, and with honorable affection, targeted their fan demographic by adhering to the trusted maxim that,what has worked before doesn’t need fixing after. For Christ’s sake just grab hold of it, tweak it a bit – but don’t fix it. Then, just sprinkle on some fairy dust and turn the bloody lot up to eleven (and a dog’s-bollox of a back-drop lighting-rig helps as well).

Formulaic, embracing, if not particularly challenging, the punters are besotted by, and with, lead-singer, Tom De Longe. His indisputable crowd rapport driven by a fiercely inspired mission to screw every last penny’s worth from the rather pricey tickets. Right on.

The set opens with a growly, low-register Moog rumble recalling Donny Darko with shades of Harold Budd’s ‘White Arcades’. Indeed, this becomes a familiar intro device for many of the evening’s songs. It’s less a contrivance more than a stage-device allowing instrument change-overs, well deserved beers, re-tunings etc – and the in-your-face lights are pretty, anyway. Unsurprisingly, opener, ‘Saturday Love’ sees punters go bananas and barely drinkable, but still expensively sacrificial beers, splash across them in arcs of floodlit abandon. Explain that on your clothes when you get home kids.

As said, the lighting-rig was a star in its own right – with myriad fluidity, the programmed sequencing energised each song and may well have been synced to drum-kit as well. The high suspended ubiquitous ‘LOVE’ logo (albums 1&2) celebrates the astronaut swinging on a crescent moon. Ingenious. And, from there on in, for the head-banging initiates, it was ‘Rawk’ history in the shaking. An unrelenting poke in the eye of strangled, pogo punting mosh fest fun. The assimilation of templates drawn from anthemic peers such as U2, and echoes of The Bunnymen’s ever guaranteed crowd-lifters, are exploited with reverential reference and utter professionalism. For this reviewer, unfamiliar with A&A’s catalogue, nagging recollections of U2‘s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ and The Enemy’s anthem for a doomed youth ‘This Song’ wouldn’t go away. Still, being in a 00.01% minority tonight, what f**k did I know? Didn’t stay for the encores; tried to lig my way in for The Doors tribute band next door. It being 42 years since I saw them proper at the IOW I wanted to see if this lot passed muster. Security was having none of it though. She looked at me (and some other chancers) coldly in the eye saying, ‘No-one here gets in alive!’ Somehow, it’s what Jim would’ve wanted.

Setlist: (I asked the soundman if I might be able to photo the setlist. ‘Man, like if we needed a setlist by now, we shouldn’t be like, doin’ this job?‘ (my punctuation, it helps) Anyway, the band needed one on stage, so here goes:

Saturday Love, It Hurts, Surrender, Dry Your Eyes, The Adventure, Everything’s Magic, Anxiety, Young London, Lifeline, Call To Arms, There Is, Hallucinations, Secret Crowds, All That We Are, The War.

Review – John Kennedy

Photos – Ian Dunn

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *