Ahhhh, Wolverhampton Civic Hall Bar. It’s at the end of a long corridor and perfectly designed so once you’re in, you’re trapped. Excellent. And here I am tonight to see The Sunshine Underground, with an interesting choice of support in The Old Romantic Killer Band (and a more logical one in Boy Crisis – well, at least to my ears). Anyway! Onwards.
Opening band, The Old Romantic Killer Band, would not have been my first choice for support tonight; not because I don’t like them (actually I love them, and not so secretly either), but just because the genre’s so different. Still, Girls Aloud are off to support Coldplay aren’t they? (Not, I hasten to add, that that’s a good example…or even a worthy comparison…perhaps I’ll just drop this point and carry on with the review eh? Okay.) So. SO. The last time I saw TORKB they were supporting Jensen and the Interceptors and although they were (to say the least) bloody marvellous, I know they were hampered by illness, crappy sound, and a venue the size of a fag packet. Tonight, however, oh my. That howl is back, and it’s rougher and more full of the blues than ever. The band I’m watching tonight are quite literally electrifying, and I will be wedged firmly at the front of any queue to see them again, whether it’s local or not. I am not kidding; you need to see these guys play live. They are an experience, and it’s a good one.
Tonight’s second band, Boy Crisis, are not one I’m particularly familiar with although I’ve heard a lot about them, so I’m excited to see what’s up (since the hype’s been good). And they’re on, and…is it me, or are they all really wasted? I’m a pretty fair listener. I’ll stand and listen to pretty much anything, it all gets a go. And this kind of music, I like! Well, I thought I liked. Something is going wrong on stage, and whether it’s a mixture of hideous sound problems (I like to think the TORKB shot electricity bolts down all the speakers with the POWER OF BLUES but, er, that’s just me), an exuberant go on the rider before coming out on stage, or what…it’s not necessarily a good thing that’s happening. There are certainly some folks here who are into it – the couple dancing next to me being a good example – but there’s a feeling that a lot of blank stares are happening from the audience at the end of each song, rather than excited response. I am pretty sure I’m not having clap-deafness on this one; there genuinely wasn’t much response. Which is a shame, because I’m sure given the right circumstances this would have been a really great, fun band to watch, but either I’ve missed the point tonight, or they have.
Headliners the Sunshine Underground are one of those bands that I’ve been aware of for ages and hadn’t really registered as growing so big so quickly. Tonight’s gig is sold out, and judging from the sudden squishing down at the front, everyone is eager to get a better look at them. Sadly they’re also plagued by the shrieks of feedback and then – even worse – guitar problems, which lead to some delays with getting things going (and unfortunately cause some mutterings from around the edges of the crowd, which is never a good thing). Still, once things are fixed they’re off and these guys are all kinds of bouncy onstage – the atmosphere is amazing and genuinely excited, my favourite kind of show.
They play a good selection of their new material tonight along with some older favourites (Commercial Breakdown, of course, getting some serious singalong action) and all in all it’s just a really good night. TSU are playing the big festivals this summer so if you’re off to either of the V festival locations or the Hop Farm Festival over the next couple of months do make sure you go and see them!
Review – Gill Duckett
Photos – Andy Whitehouse