Miike Snow, Music Go Music, We Have Band @ ULU (11/02/10)

by MV

Several months ago I idly clicked ‘buy’ on a couple of tickets for Music Go Music at the Lexington on the strength of their incredible 9-minute retro-disco single ‘Warm In The Shadows’. A few months passed, and this potentially pleasant little gig was gobbled up by a man (or possibly men) in a suit (/suits), chewed around a bit, and the spat out as part of the 2010 HMV corporate jamboree, elsewhere described as the “Next Big Thing” festival. And moved to ULU. Happily, this turn of events also saw the addition of moody Swedish electro-popsters Miike Snow to the bill, as well as some hip young kids called We Have Band. Let’s find out what happened next…

We Have Band, a young London three-piece dressed head-to-toe in white, kick things off to an initial audience of not very many. To all intents and purposes looking (and sounding) like they want to hitch a ride on the coat-tails of that hip and trendy post punk thing that was going on a few years back (1981?) There’s no denying the fun in low-rent Le Tigre chantalongs like ‘You Came Out’ (which features excellent whistling), but when the vocals switch from female to male, there’s a tendency for it all to sound a bit half-arsed Bloc Party. Still, by the end of their set most people seem to have shuffled over from the bar and a few of them are even moving around a little bit. Rock’n’roll is still alive, clearly.

Music Go Music’s set gets off to a bit of a rough start. Their grand entrance, to a stage set decked out in polystyrene pseudo-Classical ephemera (including, as is noted later on, a rather pre-pubescent looking nude male statue), is rather undermined by a case of the old knackered cables, and five minutes of awkward improvisation follow while it’s all sorted out. Singer Gala Bell – who looks exactly like someone off of Neighbours – attempts a little half-hearted joke-telling but luckily she’s soon back to what she does best. Which, essentially, is channelling Abba via an occasionally indiepop-leaning sensibility, and producing pretty little period-piece tunelets that reek of 70s hippie-glamour like Thousand Crazy Nights and Light of Love, both tossed out with a casual efficiency early in the set. The format remains the same throughout the set, Bell’s fixed grin ensuring that the mood never dips below Extreme Cheer while the band rip through a bunch of tunes which all have their feet firmly in their platform shoes and, if we’re being brutally honest, don’t sound awfully different to each other. That is, of course, until their last track, the effortlessly sublime 9-minute wonder that is Warm in the Shadows. While it lacks a little in translation (high production values clearly not their live strong point) it soars and towers its way to heights way above the rest of their (perfectly pleasant) set. More of this please.

By the time Miike Snow hit the stage I’m flagging a little and losing interest. Towering beardy singer Andrew Wyatt prowling the stage and interminably soundchecking every knob and button in sight doesn’t help matters. Once the lights dim and the fog of dry ice descends though, all is forgotten. The line-up of Bloodshy & Avant (looking every bit as euro-disco as you’d hope) and the aforementioned Wyatt has been augmented for the live shows by a few more knob-twiddlers and a live drummer, and as they file onto the stage kitted out in blank white masks and fire up the synths you immediately know that this is a band that have already mastered the art of stagecraft. The sound fills the room, most likely fills the streets outside and sounds like it could pretty happily fill the nearest massive festival stage available. The sound, as you’d expect from such seasoned producers of fine pop music, is never less than perfect. Pulsing bass and soaring synths do a pretty fine job of transporting you away from a divey student union bar and into some kind of “rave”, or whatever it is the kids do with themselves these days. Radio anthems Sylvia and Black and Blue get an early airing, and the rest of the set is one long tension-build towards an epic, revved-up version of Animal that has the crowd in raptures. A mostly perfectly-judged set that only occasionally sags, and for the most part leaves aside the nagging doubt that this is basically a rather try-hard TAKE ME SERIOUSLY project by two producers better off crafting Proper Pop for the likes of Britney. Try getting anyone in any of the numerous festival crowds they’re likely to have eating out of their knob-twiddling hands this summer to care about that sort of thing. Good luck. (And good night).