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Through no fault of their own, recent encounters with London-based four-piece Flashguns have been beset with technical problems and tonight is no different. As soon as the band take to the stage and plug in their instruments, a humming noise shrouds them and renders the opening three minutes largely unlistenable. Fortunately, this doesn't detract one iota from their energetic performance; by the time 'St George' and 'I Don't Not Love You' resonate assertively like the obtuse offspring of a latterday U2 or Simple Minds, those technical hitches appear to have disappeared as well. With choppy guitars and angular riffs aplenty, Flashguns' reference points flirt subconsciously between the past three decades without ever sounded contrived or deliberately placed. Instead, they're a breath of fresh air that are maybe just that one killer hook away from greatness.
For Jamie T, writing edgy lyrics with broad pop sensibilities are an everyday occurrence. While debut album Panic Prevention somewhat controversially found itself being one of the few records ever to be awarded a straight ten on these very pages, there's no denying that his genre-bending knack of conjuring up an insatiable tune to go with his tourettes-like vocal delivery makes for both original and compulsive listening. Sure, they'll always be accusations that he's nothing more than a posh kid using chav culture as a lucrative way of earning a crust, but listen again and this isn't N Dubz we're talking about here.
Backed by his now customary four-piece band, the decision to play smaller venues on this tour appears to have been a shrewd move. Tickets had sold out weeks ago for the majority of dates, and with current single 'Sticks'n'Stones' on heavy rotation both on radio and television playlists, the demand for Jamie T seems to be more relentless than ever. Indeed, new songs aside, the way two-thirds of the venue sing back the lyrics to everything aired from Panic Prevention means this evening serves as a gratifying testament to his loyal fanbase, even if at times it does render Treays (as he's known on his birth certificate) embarrassingly redundant at times.
While the likes of 'Calm Down Dearest', 'Back In The Game' and 'Salvador' are always a pleasure to hear, its the as-yet unreleased material from forthcoming album Kings And Queens that cause the biggest stir, not least because all five songs aired have the potential to be surefire, radio-friendly singles. Opener 'British Intelligence' has a street-punk air about it not a million miles away from the likes of criminally underrated early-Nineties act Senseless Things, Treays' vocal delivery being the obvious centrepoint, while 'Man's Machine' and 'Spider's Web' favour a more direct, urban-orientated approach, possibly the most distinctly Panic Prevention flavoured of the bunch. It's set mid-point 'Castro Dies' and the penultimate '368' that really stands out, the former sounding like the obvious sequel to 'Sheila' musically, while the latter's catchy chorus has the whole room joining in by the time the second verse reaches its climax.
With a four-song encore that takes in recent EP track 'St Christopher' and a 2 Tone-sounding run through The Silencers' 'Policeman' as well as the aforementioned 'Sticks'N'Stones' and 'Salvador' generating the most enthusiastic of responses, the show reaches a heartwarming conclusion that not only serves as a mouth-watering appetiser for Kings And Queens, but also suggests his next venture to the city will be in far more expansive surroundings than this. A welcome return.
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