It was at the end of the last year that I heard about The Ting Tings. My friend Maria was going to the NME tour at the Birmingham Academy and had managed to snag an interview with the band. Then That’s Not My Name came out and The Ting Tings went stratospheric consequently selling out Birmingham’s biggest rock venue completely.
One of the reasons I requested to review this gig is because I was intrigued by how exactly The Ting Tings could bring their multi textured music to a live medium. I was also interested to see who their fans were, given their pop/dance/rock crossover style.
One thing that occurred to me as I entered the venue is that, like their music, it is not really possible to categorise The Ting Tings fan base. The best way I could think of describing it is as a gig for people who don’t normally go to gigs. As an all ages gig, the event became a family affair, with many kids on the ground floor.
Now I do not disagree with having children at gigs, I think it’s great, however when I went to move into a large space closer to the stage (so I could actually see) I was told by an angrily wide-eyed mother “That spot is taken, their father’s standing there.” I was ever so slightly taken aback at this, given that the crowds are known to surge and crush people against barriers, and here were two children under ten stood against it. When the father came back there was still space, but I didn’t dare intrude on it. Had I paid for my ticket maybe I would have had a polite word with the lady about how a standing gig works.
Perhaps the Academy should arrange some kind of space along the balcony for children so that they can safely watch gigs, in a venue that holds over a thousand, it can become risky business.
The Ting Tings set begins with a loud drawn out synth, which I assumed was being played off stage. Jules de Martino, drummer and famed sunglasses wearer came out and began to drum, shades remaining on. The first thing to hit my ears was the sound of the bass drum. It was so loud it was almost as if the walls were vibrating! Singer and guitarist Katie White’s entrance was met with monumental clapping before the duo launched into album track We Walk.
When I listen to excerpts of the album We Started Nothing online it doesn’t immediately grab me however live onstage The Ting Tings give every single song a huge boost of sound. Sometimes this feels unnecessary such as with new single Be The One to which Jules adds a drum and bass style beat to. This takes away any vulnerability the song has had previously on record. In other cases however, it sounds amazing, Fruit Machine becomes a tougher force to be reckoned with Great DJ packs a perfect punch and finale song That’s Not My Name has the whole crowd dancing, arms raised to the ceiling.
As a performer Katie White appears fearless, jumping with or without guitar onto raised boxes at the sides of the stage, testing the durability of her microphone lead to the limit and only dipping her energy for slow track Traffic Light, a track which I felt was the set’s only weak link. Had the song been cut in half I think it would have fared better, however the fans loved it and knew every word.
If you’ve seen the That’s Not My Name video you will also be aware of Katie’s signature performance style where she uses her mic free hand to push the air in front of her, kind of preacher like. Jules seems quite focused, not saying much until Katie leaves the stage to have a break when he gets a Polaroid camera out to take a traditional Myspace Polaroid. He explains that Katie isn’t feeling well so he will start Impacilla Carpisung without her and does so, mixing the introduction with Run DMC’s Walk This Way. It’s an unexpected but thrilling moment for the crowd.
Before the gig I had reservations about how the group would generate enough sound as a duo. It seems that they use pre-recorded sounds that are either activated by a team or by foot pedals. This works well however it would be cool to see the act get a touring band so that the crowd gets a truly different show. Plus, in certain songs where the bass line weaves and thuds simultaneously, it would be more unpredictable to see it performed on the spot.
After seeing The Ting Tings live I must admit I was rather tempted to buy their album, and I might still. If you’re also in a Ting Tings limbo go see them live and then decide. You haven’t truly heard them until you see them live.
- We Walk
- Great DJ
- Fruit Machine
- Traffic Light
- Be The One
- We Started Nothing
- Shut Up and Let Me Go
- Impacilla Carpisung
- That’s Not My Name