The Madcaps + The Meaning + Death 05 + The Likely Lads @ Bar Academy 16th May 2008

Madcaps - BirminghamMadcaps - Birmingham

When I arrived at the venue last night I was shocked, yet rather pleased, that the crowd barrier has literally been removed from Bar Academy….Oh yes! That irritating barrier has finally been removed and any band playing no longer has to look like a caged mammal. Only time will tell if the barrier will return (for when bigger more mob-able acts play) but personally, I hope it doesn’t.

First up on the night’s line up was The Meaning. I have a feeling that this was not one of the originally intended line up for tonight as, in what I imagine to be a moment of intense drama, the Firing Irons split up the day before the gig. Considering the new headliners, The Madcaps are quite a rocky sounding band the inclusion of The Meaning (and heavily populated synth second act, Death 05) seemed odd as they had a totally softer, different sound. The Meaning had quite a retro synth sound that reminded me of the Beverly Hills Cop theme tune in certain songs and this possibly did not receive the intended reaction that the band desired. However, if the band really had stepped in at the last minute they had to be commended for getting their performance together and getting the crowd warmed up.

Death 05 are a group of stand-offish late teens/ early twenty-somethings who clearly know their way around a Korg. As soon as they started playing they got a couple of maturer audience members (who I suspect were proud parents of one of The Likely Lads) dancing. Perhaps it was a shoegazing/dream pop influence but it was hard to hear what the singer, Guy was singing throughout their set but seeing how the band were utterly absorbed in playing with their dials (no, I’m not going to go for the cheap shot there!), pitchbends and keys, all concentration was clearly not on the lyrics but the overall sound. Even the drums were synthesized. This, however, was not a bad thing and the band proved popular with photographer Keith who declared them the best band of the night. .. Towards the end of their set the band seemed to be enjoying themselves more, visibly moving to the music but laughing with each other rather than positioning their performance towards the audience. I think that when they start to do this, they will really start to pick up the fans their music deserves.

The Meaning- Supporting The MadCapsThe Likely Lads - Supporting The MadCaps

The Likely Lads were certainly the youngest band playing the venue that evening but were also no strangers to Bar Academy, unafraid to perform directly to the audience which was great to see.
At one point in the set the bassist had issues with his monitor and had a heated debate with the soundguy in the corner, who I instantly felt sorry for when he was heckled by the aggressive ‘mature’ (parents) crowd members. The band certainly brought fans with them and seemed to get a greater reaction than the previous two acts. They had a clear rock sound with no synth but the occasional skilled guitar solo. One thing the band, who clearly have talent and chemistry as a band, need to sort out is their vocal arrangements because when 2 or more of them sing in unison (usually in the chorus) it doesn’t quite work, so all they need to do is remove any unnecessary vocals and they’ll really grow in popularity with audiences who aren’t so familiar with their music.

The Madcaps, who I once saw playing the Sunflower Lounge, looked nicely comfortable in the Bar Academy environment. As soon as they started to play with hugely distorted riffs and a frenzy of energy they demanded the audience’s attention. The Madcaps have quite a heavy sound but the singer Peter feels no need to scream, giving them a more easily listenable feel. There was a very solid rhythm section for the entirety of their set, even in the numbers that did not move at their usual blistering pace. Second song ‘Revolution 08’ set their hardcore tone and, after playing this, the band ripped through their setlist with stunning pace. Song ‘Untitled’ (which may genuinely be untitled as I hadn’t heard it before) was a promising example of new material and shows the boys are able to go somewhere with their music. I recommend anyone who is into the heavier sounding side of the Birmingham music scene to check them out.


Goodbye to All That
Revolution 08
Before the Blackness
Zen Aria
Big Drag
British Tale of Reserve
Peace 44
What Kicks

Review – Frankie Ward
Photos – Keith West

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