The Virgins + The Vehicles + The Archives @ Birmingham Sanctuary – 11th september 2008


The Archives hail from the Black Country, and the vocalist looked much like he wished he hadn’t left the area as he spent the entire set looking either at the ceiling or his bandmates. Whilst the guitars were strong, each song merged into the next with barely a breath to differentiate between their largely generic indie-rock. The only real breaks in formation came with Never Gonna Be and, more notably, Rehabilitation, which instigated the first, barest ripple of movement in the crowd.


More local still, originating from Birmingham/Burntwood, The Vehicles inject more energy into the audience with their frothy indie sound and a rather retro dry ice machine. Some teething troubles with sound obscure one of their tracks, but this is soon rectified and Best Things Come To Those Who Wait are faster and livelier than imagined via myspace recordings.


About midway through their set a plethora of dry ice obscures the stage entirely from view. Despite this the set remains unbroken and they play on, Trouble in Paradise being received particularly well, and they exit the stage to well-deserved applause.

Although the crowd were there to see The Virgins, they were reluctant to show it or perhaps just too hipster. It’s hard to tell. Either way, there wasn’t a lot of movement despite obvious familiarity with the songs and this, coupled with sound problems that plagued the entire set – feedback from guitars and trouble with levels that resulted in the vocalist being obscured for the majority of the set despite intervention from the sound tech – meant that frustration was clear to read on the band member’s faces..


However, perhaps out of stubbornness, vocalist Donald Cumming seemed intent on seeing the show through and, due to the size of the Sanctuary, we were just about able to hear him despite the technical difficulties. They played break-out hit Rich Girls, now featuring on every hot American tv show you care to name. The Virgins have a solid line in hipster new wave, but in a more accessible/less pretentious format than that may suggest and, if tenacity impacts on success, expect big things from this quarter soon.


Review- Jack Briggs
Photos – Tom Horton

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