Tuesday 25 May 2010

Metric / Wolf Gang at Shepherds Bush Empire 24 May 2010

Wolf Gang

Off to Shepherds Bush Empire on a hot summer evening. Having had multiple bad experiences here before (poor sightlines, worse sound) we decide to stand on the left hand side of the auditorium.

We are thus well placed when Max McElligott in his guise as Wolf Gang takes the stage to deliver a sumptuous set that is almost flawless. Not remotely original, but terrifically well done.

This is Eighties influenced stadium-sized pop rock. They start off a bit like ‘Sam’s Town’ era Killers, but soon leave comparisons with those imitators behind. McElligott doesn’t sound like a copyist, he sounds like the real deal.

This is of course the tragedy. In the absence of Top of the Pops or Saturday morning kids’ TV, or even an old school Radio One, acts like Wolf Gang are basically knackered. His true audience will never find him unless his backers can spring for an expensive or eye-catching video.

The highest praise I can give to any hitherto undiscovered band is that they sound like I’ve always somehow been aware of them. Wolf Gang go better than this – they sound like EVERYONE’S always known them. Frankly, if I couldn’t sell Mr McElligott in his own right, I’d snap him up as a songwriter toot sweet.

Headliners Metric are a band that I have followed since their very beginnings, playing deep in the dear departed and demolished Metro Club in Tottenham Court Road or in an under filled Camden Barfly. I’ve cheered as their star has risen, initially on the back of leading light Emily Haines’ involvement with Broken Social Scene, but gradually because Metric are such a damn fine band.

So I’m really looking forward to seeing them. Yet when they hit the stage there immediately seems to be something wrong. The sound is so muffled that you can literally barely hear them.

Even once the band turn their strobe lights on full, and the ebullient Haines starts capering and declaiming from side to side of the stage, they still sound like your noisy neighbour from four houses away playing something that might be pretty good if you could just make out what it was.
I try to give the band time to sort things, but after twenty minutes of this I just want to leave. I want to go and listen to some Metric.

Tonight’s show is rendered an utter waste. Not just of the time of the audience but of the efforts of the band themselves. When the support act sounds fine, but the headliners make you think that you’ve got your head in a bucket of water, there is something badly wrong.

I stomp off in frustration.

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