It seems slightly perverse that George Barnett’s tonight’s opening act, especially given the fact that his cover of Daft Punk’s new single Get Lucky has (at the time of writing) racked up an incredible TWO AND A HALF MILLION hits on You Tube. Still, it doesn’t seem to trouble him and once again he delivers a set full of hits in waiting that blow most of the current chart guff off the face of the earth. From the cowbell extended clap along version of Lone Rose through to the light pop funk of Cassi and on to the Queen’s We Will Rock You meets hip hop of Light A Fire Barnett bounces around the stage in the same relentless (and seemingly effortless) way in which the music seems to pour out of him.
Speaking of which he dropped a couple of new songs into the set this evening, Falling and Crowd, the latter you can easily see becoming an arena staple one day. All too soon it ended with the carpe diem anthem for teens everywhere, 17 Days, a song that becomes all the more poignant the older you get. Having seen George a few times now I can really see the buzz building. Before the gig a couple of young ladies were singing Lone Rose in the bar and after the show a healthy stream of fans were chatting, buying CDs and getting them signed (this is pretty unusual for a support band). Judging by the endless torrent of positive comments on You Tube (to his own stuff as well as that cover version) it’s frankly inconceivable that he won’t be snapped up by a major label any day now.
Next up Dumb, another of B-Town’s bright young things (although I first saw them way back in 2009 trading as The Carpels). There’s a bit of an indie grunge edge to them, like The Smashing Pumpkins jamming with...well...Peace. Isn’t it freaking great that we can start referencing some Birmingham bands for a change eh?
Their best track so far and recent single, Dive, marries angry guitars with the lead singer’s slightly pissed off nihilism and they’ve retained a little of The Carpels' math rock heritage for an added twist. Neat.
Headliners Skaters (featuring ex Dirty Pretty Things/Paddingtons and Dead Trees members) have come a long way this evening. All the way from Noo Yawk in fact. Huddled slightly menacingly at the back of the stage before the set, wearing parkers crudely personalised with the band’s name and a selection of their song titles, they seem to be planning some sort of gangland attack. Happily they keep their assaults to the audio variety cranking out some decent garage / pop punk with tracks that really wouldn’t sound out of place on The Strokes’ first album. “Did you guys get your fucking roasted dinners?” drawled singer Michael Cummings, earning himself a bonus point for cultural awareness. Recent single I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How) and last year’s Schemers both dripped with classic New York cool and attitude inspiring a trio of up for it dudes at the front to pogo enthusiastically...happily without showing the band’s singer just what a half digested “roasted dinner” actually looks like. It was all entertaining enough (and the band got better and better as the gig wore on) but, and maybe it’s just me, was the conviction really there? Hmmmm. Leaving the stage to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing might just be the ironic answer to that one.