First up were Hablo El Diablo, a talented three-piece who were performing their first ever gig. Previously a four-piece, this lot produced a tight set of original tunage. Course to be fair to the band, one of their number was Rosco, who at last count is in 5 bands and a birdy tells me he is about to head into the studio in a aid of another. Their lead singer, with his awesome sideburns, resembles the bloke who fronts Supergrass a bit, which is no bad thing. Great guitars, bass and drums combined to demonstrate that this lot got legs and could go places. Course what was to follow had a hand in making HED shine as well. Good rock is always a good thing especially on a rainy London night in March.
The next band on the bill was the lame in name and music: Humanzees. This band looked and sounded like a bunch of teenagers having a laugh who never bothered to rehearse. From their rap stylings to the overkill of samey harmonica the band were appallingly bad and one of the few bands that I have ever seen that I could not wait to hear the end of their set. The band were trying to meld Ian Druryisms with hip-hop and they failed miserably. The fact their female singer shouted her inaudible lyrics why tossing the sadest wigga shapes made it all the more pathetic. Its not often a band comes close to driving me out of a venue, this was one of those times. If you ever see this lot on any bill, avoid them like the plague.
After the turgid pap of the previous band The New Shapes really didn’t need to do much to shine. With their Tubes meets Undertones vibe, in both music and dress sense, they produced an amusing set. Considering the age of this lot, the bassist/keyboardist looked barely old enough to shave, they delivered a rather tight set of nerd rock. The energy to be found from this lot was infectious and re-enlivened the numbed crowd. With this right backing this lot could end up in NME before you know it. They got the tunes, the look and the atittude to fit right into today’s pop rock sound. Their clean nerdy look went down well with the ladies in the audience in the room as well, always a plus.
Last up was a band with a long complicated name that can be cut short to M.P.E. (its really Meercat Population Explosion). Unlike the second band on the bill, they weren’t bad enough to cause a reaction, they were just boring as hell. They delivered nothing that caught my interest. Its the type of stuff you have heard a hundred times done far better. Nothing to see here, move on.
Overall it was a very mixed night with great bits and some dire bits. The New Shapes were probably the luckiest band of the night with their place in the running order. Both the New Shapes and Hablo El Diablo (who have the best name of the night hands down) show real potential to be heading out of tiny venues onto far bigger stages. I would not be surprised at all to see either band playing one of the big festivals this summer. I prefer HED because of the type of music they play, but TNS certainly do what they do rather well.