I must have been living under a rock these past few months because this is the first I have heard of Littlecrazy. If a band is playing Academy 1 at the O2, they must be pretty big right now. Unfortunately, I have already missed the Nigel Passey Band. The only thing that greets me when I arrive is early noughties indie tunes and the overwhelming stench of sweat and beer farts. You know that smell that emerged in clubs after the smoking ban? Thankfully, the ridiculously breezy air con and second support, Frazer soon take my mind off this.
Frazer have a definite Sheffield sound. It’s predicable to say they are like Arctic Monkeys but I must admit there is a resemblance vocally. Musically, one or two songs have a likeness to the Arctic’s more recent albums. Although Frazer’s music stays within the confines of indie, they are by no means monotonous to watch. Considering they’re a relatively new band, they display some good guitar showmanship and relish the chance to be on the huge Academy 1 stage. Furthermore, I hear Frazer managed to make a music video whilst doing a sound check in under four hours. I have a new found respect for these guys.
Next is The Downtown Roots with their sexier, old school rock’n’roll complete with Led Zep hair and seventies infused guitars. There’s no denying these guys have a big sound to match. Frontman Moz’s vocals strike me as very Pearl Jam-esque which adds a slight grunge element, especially in mellower songs such as, ‘Catch Me’. Their next song however comes back stronger and heavier with twiddling guitars and pounding from the topless, Travis-Barker-looking drummer. Their last song pays homage to Jimi Hendrix with it’s ‘Voodoo Child’ opening riff. The Downtown Roots’ set comes to an impressive end with Moz’s moaning guitar solo. Smooth.
Darke Horse were certainly unexpected, as their name would suggest, managing to come across as both amusing and seriously talented. Vocalist, Simon Kaviani assumes a typically rock’n’roll pose, strumming his guitar with legs wide apart. ‘My Salvation’, is the strongest rock-out tune with a AC/DC feel. However, I can’t help taking songs such as, ‘Flatscreen Suicide’ and ‘Jack’s My Friend’ with a pinch of irony. Although catchy as hell (seriously I’ve still got, ‘Oh Oh!/Jack’s My Friend!’ swirling round my head), there’s no way these songs cannot be delivered in a cheesy way. This isn’t a bad thing. If anything, this was the most fun I’d had all night. At one point, I realise that one of Darke Horse’s songs would be perfect for an animated fight scene. Think, Bon Jovi meets Power Rangers. As the band finish, I wonder if they are a live advertising campaign because I have an overwhelming craving for a Jack and coke.
Before seeing Littlecrazy, I worried this was going to be the kind of rock music that makes me cringe, but as they open with a beautiful cello intro, I wonder if I have misjudged them. Suddenly, blonde front woman, Amy Blakey bounces onto stage, wearing skin tight leggings and a tiny top, unleashing powerfully self indulgent vocals. Together with a skimpier dressed female backing vocalist and the other male members, their energetic set is not so much a gig but a theatrical performance. New single, ‘End with You’ is emotionally charged and suits Amy’s voice better. To my surprise the audience know all the lyrics and enthusiastically sing along. Then the cello/guitarist adds another classical touch, playing piano to gentler vocals, proving that Amy is best when she has less music to compete with. However, she and the backing vocalist soon get back to some sexy gyrating to heavier rock songs. Littlecrazy come to a dramatic finish with, ‘Stone’ which sadly, demonstrates Amy’s over sung vocals again. The band appear highly choreographed as they all surround the drum kit, before bursting into hair shaking and rocking out once more. Although this all seems cheesy to me, it can’t be denied that the audience have enjoyed themselves tonight. If you are going to create this type of music, it demands a certain amount of cockiness to pull it off, but when Amy shouts after each song, ‘Sheffield, are you still with me?’ I must say, ‘I’m not’.