Late of the Pier

It’s fair to say that Fantasy Black Channel was amongst my favorite albums of 2008 and, with the band widely held as masters of the live setting, to say I was excited to see Late of the Pier is an understatement. The Royal in Derby is a most peculiar venue, resembling an art gallery much more than a setting for tonight’s electro-rock affair. The venue itself is the definition of elegance, boasting chandeliers and period features (such as the chic ceiling). Juxtaposed against this, however, is a huge sound system and mass of neon colours, which makes for a suitably eccentric atmosphere. The Royal deserves credit for providing a quality venue to a city notably lacking in such. Add to that the excellent support act in the form of Micachu and the Shapes (keep your eyes peeled for these in the coming months) and the night begins in exciting fashion.

As musicians, Late of the Pier are out of this world live. Radio friendly single ‘Heartbeat’ is deployed relatively early in the set, the perfect sing-along to set the tone. It’s a beautiful electro-pop track which finishes with some remarkable guitar craftsmanship by frontman Samuel Eastgate. ‘Space and the Woods’ and ‘VW’ are also worth a mention. ‘Space and the Woods’ gets the crowd dancing and singing along to the electro hook, and ‘VW’ is an ingenious instrumental performed at a relentless pace.

Electro monstrosity ‘Focker’ is an absolute beast of a track and is easily tonight’s highlight. Late of the Pier’s technical brilliance is mind-boggling. Despite being undoubtedly inebriated in some form, they blend ferocious drumming, rasping vocals and an incredibly exhilarating synth climax to perfection. It’s fast-paced, intense, electrifying and well received by tonight’s onlookers. The evening’s finale is the utterly superb ‘Bathroom Gurgle’. Tonight’s performance extends its recorded counterpart (the lead single from their debut album), improvising on the original piece and redefining the nature of the track. It’s an extended version littered with innovative fills and idiosyncrasy.

All looks rosy for Late of the Pier tonight, however they spoil a potentially euphoric set with their own failings. As much as I love the rock and roll persona, Late of the Pier take it one step too far tonight. Instead of complimenting their sound, the petulant behaviour of the lead singer leaves a sour taste. Guitars are thrown, microphone stands destroyed and a number of vocal parts missed: it’s a pity to see such an infringement on tonight’s performance.

The set was also disappointingly short. A quick run through the highlights of Fantasy Black Channel and the night is over and I’m back home watching George Lazenby stumble his way through ‘On His Majesty’s Secret Service’ with my Mum. It’s frustrating that none of Late of the Pier’s anticipated new material is on show tonight, especially as the band have been touring with it previously and NME have reported it to be mind-blowing.

Late of the Pier are undoubtedly talented; a shining light amongst the glut of currently hyped British artists. Fantasy Black Channel is pure brilliance and the band has a very encouraging future. The only slight banana skin to their careers is self-implosion. Lets hope for both our sakes and theirs that they drop the bad-tempered attitude and their choice of ‘recreational activities’ and focus on what really matters: the sexy beats.

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