The Ting Tings and AlphabeatEdit this event
Tonight at the Carling Academy, we're stepping back, back in time. As this cavernous black box spins back through the musical universe, like a sweaty TARDIS with more expensive beer, we see in the distance some skinny, glammy boys and girls shaking about. We appear to have landed next to a Top of the Pops stage circa 1989.
To confirm this, we hear the strains of 'Boyfriend' by *Alphabeat *. Like the rest of their set, it's a bit of light electrodance combined with processed pop. It’s like you’ve just found a ten-year-old packet of InstaPOP at the back of the cupboard during a clear out. The pack has shrunk, its contents are brittle and dried, but, hey presto, add some young blood and it expands brightly in your face. The flavour has weakened over time, but throw on a sprinkling of Euro-Cheese and anything this sweet and catchy is still more than edible.
They end on their that song. Ah 'Fascination', like a tune dropped off the edge of a film starring Emilio Estevez and Molly Ringwald for being too heart-warming. And by the end of it, you know everything is going to be shiny, happy and mulleted in the world, forever. It seems sincere, and you'd be a total cunt to dis that. And of course, any band that Richard and Judy like so much must be good.
In between acts we seek visual stimulus in the MTV logo projected on the wall, spinning, ever spinning. What's MTV I hear you say kids? Well, it was the DiS of the 1980s, except MTV paid better.
We spin on through time, and watch The Ting Tings (pictured) walk on to 'Once in a Lifetime' by Talking Heads. We doubt the music will be this good again tonight. Hmm, what period have we landed in now? Well, the Tings’ Katie White looks like Michaela Strachan off The Hitman and Her. Wait a minute, war in Iraq? Recession? Lame dance pop? We've obviously landed back in 1991. Except that everyone is watching the gig through mobile phone cameras.
The Ting Tings begin with their that song. When you're a band with a that song, the eternal question is: at what point do you drop it? Unlike Alphabeat, they decide to start with it, operating under the policy of quickly letting people know just exactly who the fuck they are.
On stage, they look slightly less like two market traders hastily dressed by a recent fashion graduate as they do in that video, but the rest of the set is musically more of the same, with diminishing returns. Bargain basement fuzzled dance pop with shouty lyrics and hollow, pounding beats. None of which manages to detract from its emptiness.
As they finish, we find ourselves zooming forward again: we've left 1991 now, it's 1996 and we see some gobby, hairy fellahs from North Britain on stage playing good-time, retro, country-tinged rock and roll. We’re in a massive tent doing cocaine with the editor of Loaded, MP3s and 9/11s haven't been invented, the world is still repeating itself, but we're at the top of the cycle, unable to see the folly of what we are riding. All seems good, but soon the crash will come.
What's Loaded I hear you ask kids? Well, it was the DiS of the ‘90s, except that Loaded paid better.
Those hairy boys are apparently known as The Fratellis and have none of the sheen or glam or poncing about of the previous two acts. They don’t need it, they have come to rock you, no messin', and they come complete with the rough confident charm of the big, laughing guy in the corner of the pub, or like The View with some actual testicles.
They drive a big, cocky juggernaut of rock through so much indie posturing, but like that big guy in the corner of the pub, if you spend to long with it you realise there’s nothing really there behind the stubble. They carry on far too long for the in-your-fucking-face and down-your-fucking-pants charm to last. It's stuff like this that makes the world go around, so it makes it hard to knock. But it's also stuff like this that stops things ever getting any better too. Everyone keeps on jumping and you realise that Del Amitri was right. Those crazy tigers eh?
The black box we're in spins again and we're dropped back on Hotham Street, Liverpool 3, and to be honest, even with all its faults, we're glad to be back in 2008. Boom shang-a-lang.