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- Johnny Foreigner »
When looking back over the impact of Drowned In Sound these past nine years, it's fair to say the site has been pivotal in shaping the careers of several artists along the way. One of those would undoubtedly be Johnny Foreigner, whose praises were being sung on DiS' very own boards almost straight from the moment their first record (and we emphasise the word "record") saw the light of day three years ago.
Nevertheless, despite mini-album Arcs Across The City being one of the few releases ever to attain a precocious 10/10 review on these very pages twelve months later, it would also be fair to say that opinion has been split between the writing team pretty much from day one. Indeed, as one of those not firmly ensconced in the camp marked 'Fanboy', it's been something of an arduous process trying to fathom out what it is exactly that inspires such rabid devotion to the JoFo cause, because make no mistake about, their fanbase are a loyal bunch.
That last statement is none more evident than tonight, particularly as a good half of the songs aired this evening haven't even been released yet, despite row upon row of the audience mouthing every single word of each successive song back at the three sweaty figures onstage. Certainly, when it comes to enthusiasm and passion for doing something they believe in, there probably isn't another band on these shores so committed to the cause. Their forty-five minute set is a relentless surge of adrenalin-fuelled energy that doesn't stop for breath at any point, even when the heckles about the Aston Villa football score try and put Alexei Berrow and co. off their stride ("Aston Villa? Football? Let's just play another song shall we and forget that last comment..."). In turn, the JoFo live experience is an infinitely more pleasurable one than sitting through an entire album, a point even bass player Kelly Southern admits to DiS afterwards. Strings are broken, drumkits get trashed, and yet more sweat oozes from the pores of the unholy trinity of homegrown DIY punk pop.
The new songs aired from forthcoming album Grace And The Bigger Picture aren't a million miles away from their previous output, yet what makes Johnny Foreigner so undeniably great is the way they launch headfirst into vintage material like 'Champagne Girls I Have Known' and 'Sometimes In The Bullring' with an unstoppable vigour that puts many of their peers to shame.
Although this is only the first night of the tour - not that Johnny Foreigner seem to participate in much else - the frantic tenacity of their performance suggests the next two weeks of cross-country madness should be fun-filled, for sure.
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