The Parlotones + Max Raptor + The Atats @ Birmingham Barfly – 6th August 2008


I had absolutely no idea to expect from the tonight’s support bands because I hadn’t had time to check them out on the web, but as The Atats jumped on stage I thought I knew exactly what to expect from them. Lead vocalist and guitarist Jake looks like your classic indie kid who’s just finished his day job in a building society: skinny jeans, fluorescent shirt and oversized tie. I was pleasantly surprised however when they kicked off straight away with a simple little rock and roll tune called ‘Be Careful’ which got the modest crowd of about 30 buzzing nicely.


These guys are cool because they supplement their well-crafted old school rock and roll tunes with touches of reggae in the rhythm and cute bluesy guitar riffs. What you see isn’t exactly what you get. Their catchy, simple ditties are played with panache and a summer retro vibe that totally belied the fact that this was only their second gig! Their final song, I Don’t Know shows them off to their best and was a great way to end the set. I can’t wait to see how this band develops and I’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on them.

Max Raptor sure loves their dinosaurs. A huge black and white, er… raptor accompanies them on stage. You kind of get the impression that something a bit raw and scary is coming your way and this is true — everything is done with a stomp and a swagger, which is almost animal-like. Wil Ray’s left foot never stops tapping and he has a stage presence that’s like a cross between Mick Jagger and Russell Brand.
The band were let down slightly by muddy sound but their energy and attitude still shone through.


They quickly started to warm up and enjoy themselves about three songs in, and ‘Footprints’ was a real highlight of the set. The band had a lot of supporters their who clearly knew all the songs inside and out and knew when to clap and shout in the right places. Final track ‘Sparks’ was left mainly to the band with Wil leaving the stage. Bassist Tom Garrett was not feeling too good apparently, but this still didn’t stop him from swinging his bass and jumping around like a madman. ‘Footprints’ is due to appear on an EP in out in September and ‘Sparks’ is likely to be their first single with Ctrl Alt Del Records later this year.

The Parlotones are another band whose look doesn’t exactly match their sound. They looked exactly like their press shots — all matching black shirts, red ties and Green Day- esque eyeliner but they came on stage almost unnoticed. These guys are so unassuming in their character you would be forgiven for thinking you were looking at stylish roadies tuning up for the main act. After a quick sound check, they kicked off nicely with ‘Louder Than Bombs’, which rocked way more than on record, and then there was no mistaking that these guys were the main act. This is the first time I’ve ever been to a gig where there were more punters for the support than the headliner, and this huge South African band found themselves playing in front of 20 or so hardcore fans.


I love Khan Morbee’s voice and it was a shame that the vocals were still buried as with the support acts. He still belted out the lyrics and during the quieter intros and piano numbers he sounded like an angel, and after his use of a trademark megaphone on ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ the vocals seemed clearer. About half a dozen fans yelled, screamed, and sang along and after a while it was easy to forget that the audience was so small. The small room was still full of atmosphere and everyone was smiling and singing along to ‘Beautiful’, an unashamedly feel-good ballad that leaves you all warm and fuzzy and that you can’t help but buy into.

The tiny crowd absolutely worshipped this band, the set was amazing, despite the bad sound and the band being plagued by monitor trouble. The car that was set alight on Digbeth High Street this evening was not as hot as the Parlotones.

Set List:
Louder Than Bombs
Only Human
Giant Mistake
! (Exclamation)
Rock Paper Scissors
Bird in Flight
Sun Comes Out
Disappear Without a Trace
Dragonflies and Astronauts
Over Exposed
Here Comes a Man

Review – Angela Slater
Photos – Ian Dunn

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