For those of you who don't already know...Tubelord are an awesome band. They play a unique form of alternative rock that carefully balances the melodicism and vocal harmonics of pop music with a complex razor-edged sense of math experimentalism. Tonight they kick off their UK tour at North Hertfordshire's only decent music venue, for this is a county sadly lacking a prolific music scene. Before Tubelord take to the stage however, support comes in the shape of two fine local acts and tour support act Tall Ships.
Bounding on to the stage at a little past 8.15 come Minor Pilot, don't worry if you haven't heard of them as this is one of their first gigs. Playing an intriguing mix of standard alternative rock and perhaps the slightest hint of shoegaze and stoner influences, they immediately grab attention from the crowd courtesy of some interesting megaphone and xylophone use, it works better than you may think. A promising act for sure and one I'll be keeping an eye on for certain.
Having first seen local lads Scream! Shout! Say Nothing nearly 18 months ago now, as support for sadly deceased Hell Is For Heroes, and been impressed with them then I can't help but feel slightly guilty as they bound on stage with enthusiasm this evening. I really should have bought their album by now I think to myself (I'm onto it now) and their new songs sound equally good. They stand out a little on tonight's bill partly because they're a fair dollop heavier than the other acts but also because of the infectious stage presence that is singer/saxophonist Ben who spends a great deal of the set careering around the stage like a lion on rollerskates. A band who really deserve to be headlining venues of this size by now.
Tall Ships make an immediate impression of me, mainly because the bassist looks ridiculously like somebody I know. Once they start playing they prove to be fairly similar to tonight's headliners but with less focus on vocals and more on swapping instruments mid-song (something I highly approve of). Particularly impressive is when the frontman (sorry I don't know the name) dives from guitar and synths to behind the drum kit so that he can flail away with an admirable amount of gusto. Again a good band who I'll probably look out for in the future.
I've already mentioned the fact that Tubelord are a great band but I haven't yet mentioned one important fact. Every time I see this band they are better than the time before and that can surely can only be a good thing. Tonight sees, assumedly, their first gig with new band members, keyboardist Jamie(?) and bassist J(?). This certainly doesn't disrupt the band, they're tighter than ever and the addition of a fourth member really fills out the songs live with the intricate synth lines oft present on the debut record having been missed when I've seen them live before. A lovely addition sees Jamie flicking through the pages of a book on "Cows To The East, Cities To The West" whilst holding it up to the microphone. A great set culminates with a double header of "I Am Azerrad" and "Our First American Friends" and it's all over far sooner than the faithful would like. The band's performance may be near flawless but sadly the evening is spoilt slightly by the incessant talking in some sections of the crowd. It always amazes me how people decide that it's best to have a chat at a gig rather than going round to one another's houses, it just doesn't make sense and, of course, it's extremely rude. Ah well, still a great evening and I look forward to seeing all four of these bands again sometime soon.
Minor Pilot - 7/10
Scream! Shout! Say Nothing - 8/10
Tall Ships - 7/10
Tubelord - 9/10
Tubelord setlist (very much guesswork with the order and I may have missed some songs out)
Your Bed Is Kind Of Frightening
He Awoke On A Beach In Abergavenny
Night Of The Pencils
Cows To The East Cities To The West
Somewhere Out There A Dog Is On Fire
Stacey's Left Arm
I Am Azerrad
Our First American Friends