With the words of BrumLive’s editor in chief swirling round my head (“Be careful, they’re a lively bunch them fans of The Pigeon Detectives ”) I made my way into the O2. Pah! I’ve been doing lively gigs since I was a teen. The Meteors, Suicidal Tendencies, Agnostic Front, Black Flag… I think I can handle a few fop haired Indie student types with their layabout swaying!!!! Pah!
My stereotyping of said fopsters is metaphorically underlined, bold typed and italicized as support band Franklin take to the stage. Clean sounding, bouncy and worthy of a place on the bill of many a modern festival line-up and probably even the charts, they have a sound that does nothing for me personally. That’s not a criticism of them but an affirmation that they will appeal to many people who like that sound and try as I might, I can’t pick out a single influence, nor anyone that they specifically sound like. That’s a good thing, believe me because it helps to keep my attention, although no help to the reader with reference points.
The singer, Alex Frankl, has a smooth and vocally athletic voice and strums acoustically throughout most of the set. Barney Trent and Seb Hakim provide a very stable rhythm section.
For me though, the star of the band is Brandon Hargreave on lead guitar. Playing the fret board with what appears to be a broken finger, he misses not a single note from what I can tell, whilst drawing a beautiful tone from the guitar. A nicely paced set with an upbeat tempo, a constant barrage of melodies, finishing strong and then they’re off to mingle with the crowd. Not my bag though enjoyable nonetheless. Worthy of your ears and some of you will certain like them enough to watch out for them.
A short wait sees the crowd swell to near capacity. On a school night, with a mixed crowd of those probably young enough to have been just starting big boys school when the Piddies started, and plenty of old ‘uns too, the lack of drinkers means I can comfortably prop up the bar.
The Piddies take the stage to a rapturous welcome. (Look, I come from a couple of miles of these The Pigeon Detectives and that’s what we called Pigeons when I was growing up round there, so yes, it may smack a little of over-familiarity but I’m going to call them The Piddies!) The rapturous welcome leads straight into “Enemy Lines” from their new album and as the upbeat first chorus starts then so do the crowd. Bouncing. A lot. In fact virtually from the start to the end. To say this crowd are lively is an understatement. Not in an aggressive or pent up rage or even a strangers-not-welcome way as per the earlier mentioned bands of my youth but in a joyous, we’ve got youthful knees kind of way.
Vocalist Matt Bowman recognises that they’re a partisan crowd and whilst the band can get away with new tracks they know how to work a crowd and so early on he declares that the band are ”going to give you all the hits”. This they do with seven songs from the first two albums including all the singles. A between song banter, of which there is plenty, has Matt telling the crowd that Mondays and Tuesdays are tough gigs being the start of the week and that Wednesday usually shows signs of livening up. Early song “I Found Out” with it’s Undertones-esque riff and sing-along chorus proves him correct as the audience bounce and sing like their lives depend on it. “Told ya! Brum! Wednesday gigs…. Piece of piss!”
At times sounding like a mixture of a Noo Yawk Arctic Monkeys and a Yawkshur version of Strokes and, occasionally, vocally falling into the delivery of a Northern Brett Anderson we get some of the best elements of some of Indie’s good and great. It works for me! The crowd too judging by the fact that they get livelier as the set goes on, culminating in a mass up-on-the-shoulders moment. Or “the tallest crowd at the O2 ever”. He twirls, leaps and staggers across the stage, atop the monitors and then late on surfs the crowd singing the coda to “Take Her Back”. The man has boundless energy keeping the crowd wired too and he maintains it right to the end.
“I’m Not Gonna Take This” and the incredibly catchy “I’m Not Sorry” see us to the end and I’m pretty sure we were all sorry that this had ended. First time I’ve managed to catch them. Brilliant!. I just wish my knees were twenty years younger and I’d have shown those kids how to cut a rug!
Reviewer: Mark Veitch
Photographer: Chris Bowley