Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Thee Lothario / Isolated Atoms / 51 Breaks / Corelli @ The Sound Bar, Saturday 13th March 2010

I Thee Lothario...suits coming soon.

First time I’ve been to the Sound Bar in ages. Slack old me. I’ve been drawn up to the nether regions of Corporation Street by a night of local synthy rocky type stuff, capped off by Hearing Aid favourites, the mighty I Thee Lothario. All hail the Lothario. I rather fancy myself as a Lothario actually, glossing over the fact that I look more like a skinnier version of that bloke from the Go Compare adverts that is (or the Italian Chef from the take your pick). Anyway, enough of me. How are you? Come on in. Sit down. Fancy a cup of tea? Biscuit? I have Hob Nobs you know...

First up Corelli. Like all of the band’s on tonight’s bill they’ve wisely looked back to the glory days of the 80’s for some of their key influences, so there’s a little Flock of Seagulls, some Spandau Ballet (the lead vocalist has a touch of the Tony Hadley’s there) and that feeling that every lyric really ruddy matters. You don’t get that with N-Dubz. Pick of the pops included ‘I Listen to Dance Music (Because of You)’ – which has echoes of the great Andy Wickett (local legend – who Lady Baron swore was in the audience tonight – and the man who once sang lead vocals in Duran Duran) and ‘Dead In The Water’ plus an inspired and mightily impressive cover of Spandau’s ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’. Corelli good (Cor...really good...see what I did there? Oh, you did)

Next up 51 Breaks who did a fine job of supporting the hotly tipped Chew Lips a few months back and were just as strong tonight. Rich sounding glossy pop with emotive vocals and a sack full of anthemically catchy tunes, including a rather fine new one called Trenches (I think...) they’re arguably one of the strongest of Birmingham’s synth rock bands (I hesitate to call it a scene, but there really does seem to be something building out there). Whilst I might not haunt big venues too much I know what sound good in a huge arena and what gets a crowd going...and 51 Breaks have it by the bucketful.

The penultimate group of the night, Isolated Atoms, have a touch of Interpol about them, fusing (like their American cousins) some Joy Division and Bauhaus with The Cure and, on one or two tracks like ‘Run to You’ for example, Placebo. Gothy, synthy rock in other words and all the better for it. You can imagine this lot soundtracking some huge teen (as in the movie being huge, not a film about a fat teen...although I imagine they’d have no problem finding a few) vampire movie. The lead singer had a nice line in audience baiting, referring to us as ‘faggots’ at one point, but then again, coming from the Black Country (home of the aforementioned meat based treat) that’s probably a term of endearment right? He honed in on one young lady on several occasions, putting her in a head lock and yelling down her ear. I assume he knew her, she certainly knew him by the end of the night. I actually rather liked the edge this gave. He spent a large part of the set in amongst the crowd and, whilst he didn’t resort to the tactics of art punk misfits Selfish Cunt (their lead singer would lob glass bottles at people and throw their pints at them in order to get a reaction) he put himself out there, which takes balls.

Finally, bow down before the pomp and glory that is I Thee Lothario. Despite promising me matching pastel silk suits months ago, the band stubbornly refuses to day...when I win the lottery...I will dress them all force if necessary. Whoohhhahahahahahah. Anyway, what can I say about them that I haven’t already? Once more it was a gloriously polished performance, this time though without their secret weapon – sax god Byron – in evidence. I feared his absence would take the gloss off things but, if anything, it bought some of their best bits to the fore (Aaron’s vocals and Steve’s (EDIT: It's Stu, not Steve...whoops...I blame the cider) tower of synths - currently the tallest structure in the Western world - were particularly impressive). Kicking off with ‘Arise. Release. Repent.’ it was a nothing short of a greatest hits set in the making. Trevor Horn are you listening? Get this lot in the studio and you’ll be back at number one before you can say Video Killed The Radio Star...then they can buy their own silk suits. ‘Let’s Dance’ initiated much boisterous frugging along at the front of the crowd whilst the bitter ‘Love’s Young Dream’ got a particularly impassioned performance tonight. Did they really dedicate a song to me too? It sounded like they did (I hope they did...shit...otherwise I’m hearing things and this blog’s title could end up being strangely prophetic). Aw guys. I’ve never had a band dedicate a song to me. I feel like the Queen Mother. Anyway, dead monarchs aside, I Thee Lothario delivered a belter last night, with closing number ‘Soldier To Your Heart’ whipping the audience into an arm waving woowoowoowoowoowoowoowoo frenzy. Possibly Thee best I’ve ever seen them play...

PS: So is Birmingham home to a burgeoning synth rock scene? It sounds that way. Odd that, almost exactly 30 years after the City played host to THE synth / new romantic club, The Rum Runner, and spawned THE synth rock band of the decade Duran Duran, a harder edged but clearly influenced clutch of bands are springing up. Watch this space.


Anonymous said...

Steve hahahahaha it's Stu... but we are all gonna call him Steve from now on.

CORELLi said...

Great review cheers! We love that you noticed the 'Flock of Seagulls' in us :)

Thanks again for the review


The Baron said...

Hello ITL,

Whoops...Steve, Stu...hell...I'm easily confused.

Hello Corelli,

My pleasure. Great set. Loved the Spandau cover!

CORELLi said...


Was a bit rusty as we had to pull it out the bag and dust it off for that gig, seemed some what relevant.

Hope to see you at another gig soon.

We got Actress and Bishop 10th April.

Thanks again