The Fratellis, The Ting Tings, Alphabeat – April 27th 2008, Cambridge Junction
This isn’t quite the new music tour that MTV would have you presume with Pigeon Detectives, The Zutons, CSS and The Futureheads playing the other nights and most of the crowd here to see The Fratellis play Chelsea Dagger, but it is nice to get to see The Tings Tings live for the first time.
Before that though we are treated to Alphabeat, known to the crowd through their recent single Fascination. The set proves to be more of the same, being hard to describe without using the word ‘Eurovision’. It is no wonder with their Danish roots, happy go lucky attitude and two part male/female vocals on every track. In fact they say little throughout the half hour except to introduce themselves by proclaiming “We are Alphabeat. We play pop music.” Their drummer seems to be enjoying it though, which is always good.
Onto The Tings Tings then, whose chavtastic version of The White Stripes seems to be sweeping Britain as we speak. They are not so much a band as a collaboration, much in the same way as Yazoo in the 80’s. While they have all the style and charisma of a great band with Jules De Martino thumping away at the drums with his dark sunglasses and tight t-shirt with former girl band failure Katie White leading from the front, you can’t help feel something is missing from the performance.
Unfortunately for them it soon becomes apparent that aside from a few songs in which Kate White plays guitar akin to the awkward way in which Meg White plays drums that most of what you are hearing is actually being provided on pedal loops by the soundman. And then of course it becomes little more than a Girls Aloud concert with an excellent drummer on stage. It is a shame too as they have some cracking tunes amongst their Topshop collection of music, but as yet they have a long way t go in the live arena, especially to fill some of the bigger summer festival stages.
Speaking of which last up are The Fratellis, who on June 27th will be second on the bill to Kings Of Leon on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage. It is a shame then that they have spent the last year seemingly writing songs desperate to fill that massive billing, as it simply hasn’t worked.
First up is new single Mistress Mabel, which simply resembles a band trying far too hard to combine an anthemic tune with rhyming lyrics and ends up sounding like a Liam Gallagher penned 70’s glam rock tune. But most here have already heard this on the radio, and are willing to forgive them this mishap in addition for the spanking new music that MTV have billed.
Unfortunately it never comes. One of our favourite things about Costello Music, The Fratellis excellent debut album, is its originality both lyrically and musically. Most of their songs of formulaic, no-one is denying that, but very few contain those horrible musical cliches like cheesy guitar solos or big drum endings. So it is with regret then that next come Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night, Got Ma Nuts From A Hippy and new song A Heady Tale all with the aformentioned added musical faux pas.
At this point is is worth pointing out that they are the first band that this has happened to. Enter Stereophonics, who after two great albums went all acoustic and moody, failed, and reverted to a similar overly excessive glam approach. they recruited additional members to their live set-up, losing that raw three-piece energy, and the result was the demise of one Britain’s best bands just from simply trying too hard to fulfill expectations.
So is it no surprise then to see The Fratellis have also inexplicably recruited a fourth member and immediately lost all their credibility on stage. They have never been a band that make new music in the literal sense, there was never going to be anything groundbreaking here. But the new songs like Acid Jazz Singer, Shameless – which sounds like a rock version Bad Bad Leroy Brown – and My Friend Jon are delivered with such a sterile approach that it makes you wonder if you are watch the same band that emerged with Creepin’ Up the Backstairs and henrietta last year.
Only the slower singalong old favourites Whistle For The Choir and Ole Black ‘n’ Blue Eyes bring any life to the crowd, who with the exception of the moshpit tens have all lost faith by now. Luckily slight redemption in in store with set-closer Milk and Money, a piano-driven ballad that makes a fitting closing with its rousing ending.
The encore quickly follows with the pick of the new material Lupe Brown giving signs that maybe all is not lost, before the the obligatory Chelsea Dagger sends the suburban fans home happy. But much like Radiohead’s described Creep as their iron lung, you can’t help but feel this Dagger may have already pierced too deep into the soul of one of the most promising bands of recent years.
THE FRATELLIS SETLIST:
Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night
Got Ma Nuts From A Hippy
A Heady Tale
Acid Jazz Singer
Cuntry Boys & City Girls
Tell Me A Lie
Ole Black ‘n’ Blue Eyes
My Friend John
Whistle For The Choir
Milk & Money