Tuesday, 10 August 2010

People In Planes - London Upstairs @ Highbury Garage - Friday 6th August 2010

People In Planes have had a somewhat topsy-turvy career to say the least. The Welsh rockers started out as Robots In The Sky but after a number of other bands decided to act like pricks and complain that PiP couldn't have this name because it was too similar to their band's name they had to change that to Tetra Splendour. Tetra Splendour signed to EMI sub-label Wishakismo and released debut 'Splendid Animation' which received plenty of attention for having "meandering jazzy nonsense" in it and generally sounding a bit like Radiohead. Nevertheless they were let back into the studio by EMI but then they suddenly got dropped by the label after management changes (it's all going a bit Hundred Reasons now isn't it?). Then the band recorded new material with new keyboard player Ian Russell and decided to change their name again (you'll have to ask them) to People In Planes. They had a music video directed by Joaquin Phoenix and basically moved to the USA for a little while as they were signed to Wind-Up records over there. They last released new material in 2008 with 'Beyond the Horizon'. Now though they're on the comeback trail with plenty of new stuff to play on a short run of UK dates, including this one in the tiny little venue above the Highbury Garage.

Before the pleasure of hearing new PiP material is a set by fellow Welshmen The Undivided. Whilst the band are far from a bad band there is little to set them apart from a great many other indie/alt bands trailing around the scene at the moment. Their set is also spoiled a little by the fact that the vocals are scarcely audible much of the time (partly due to poor sound and partly due to lots of people talking over them). A rather uninspiring half hour support slot. People In Planes however are on great form. Despite their set being composed more of new material than old, they keep the crowd attentive and interested. New material is not a great departure from their 'classics' with the possible acception of 'Fade Away' which sees frontman Gareth Jones adopting a near croon at the piano. The best received songs are, unsurprisingly, the ones from 'Beyond the Horizon' which seems to be the audience's album of choice. 'Pretty Buildings' and 'Vampire' especially are greeted like long lost friends. The band are as tight as ever in the live arena with Pete Roberts guitar dominating proceedings much of the time. The only near disruption to the set comes from a projector screen that is lowered by someone or other at the venue behind the band only to get caught on something on its way down, a journey which it never completes. By the time it is taken back up again the band are returning to the stage for an unscheduled encore of 'Fire' after the crowd refuses to leave without one, always a good sign. It would take more listens to really judge the band's new songs but if they are as good on record as on first live listen then there is really nothing to worry about.

The Undivided - 6/10
People In Planes - 8/10

People In Planes setlist

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