I learned long ago not to be embarrassed by my musical tastes. Very few people ever see my CD collection (and there are some very dodgy CDs in there…) and on the fair few occasions that I go to a gig on my own, it’s easy to hide away next to a pillar, partially pretending that the rest of my attending group are at the bar, buying me a drink. Anyway, it’s generally dark and nobody would recognise me.
It was slightly different tonight. When I arrived at Fibbers (a lot earlier than I usually would and still in full daylight), the queue stretched right along the street. And it was mainly made up of approximately sixth form aged girls. Most of them wondering why some old f*rt had joined the queue. I may not have been the eldest there but I was almost certainly the eldest who wasn’t accompanying his or her children. I did my best to look nonchalant and spent quite a long time wondering why it was taking about an hour to get the sell-our crowd of 280 into the venue. I guess having to check the majority of the attendees’ IDs adds quite a bit of time. (Sadly, nobody on the door asked me for my ID. They must have recognised me from my frequent visits…)
Anyway, I eventually got in and found a position at the bar (just behind a woman and her daughter – it’s possible we inadvertently looked like a family group) just before The Shower Scene took to the stage amid much enthusiastic screaming. This four-piece from Dublin, performing for the first time in the UK, started out as a solo acoustic act but are now listed as “pop punk”. I bet that’s not a metamorphosis many bands go through. There was some nice guitar work and some very powerful drumming but I thought the vocals were lacking something during the louder songs (which, being part punk, most of them were). Strangely the one quieter song, which might have been called Run Away Tonight or, perhaps, Your Are Everything, was easily the best song vocally and proved a popular sing-along for the crowd. Vocalist Eoghan also seemed to be saving himself between songs as it was guitarist Goc, full of Irish charm and brogue (reminiscent of a Boyzone member with added swearing) who did all the talking, introducing the songs and providing a bit of commentary. This was a fair, if not outstanding set and provided a good opening for tonight’s main act. I was impressed enough to shell out for the debut EP.
Arguably Elliot Minor are York’s most successful band at the moment and, while a large part of their audience does seem to be composed of young (and, once again, screaming) females, they have produced two extremely good albums. Their live act is slightly different to the recorded output as the latter includes a large degree of string arrangements, but it can’t be said that they aren’t a very good live act. They certainly know how to play and how to work an audience, with Alex making good use of the stage barrier to get closer to the fans. Tonight’s set comprised songs from both the debut album and last year’s Solaris and, while the latter does (in my opinion) include at least one poor song, there wasn’t a duff or dull part of the set, which included all my favourites – Jessica, Parallel Worlds, Running Away, Fireflies (a non-album release cover of Owl City’s original) and the wonderfully riffed Electric High.
There was a lot of energy in the performance and all the band (or, at least, those that I could see) seemed to be enjoying themselves on what was the first gig of their current tour. I think it was the first time I had been to Fibbers when it was sold out and the place soon started to take on a steamy, sticky atmosphere, even for those of us not dancing or bouncing around. After about an hour, we got the usual announcement, “This is our last song.” “Yeah, right,” I thought, “except for the encore.” The song was duly played, the band put down their instruments, took their bows and left the stage. And then nothing happened. No cries of “More!”, no slow hand clap, no cheering. Nothing. In fact, people started leaving. I’m not sure whether the young audience didn’t realise the rules, or whether the band didn’t do encores, or even whether bands in general only do encores if people do actually shout for one but, after a few minutes, the lights started to come on and it was obvious that the last song was, in fact, just that.
It was a bizarre, surreal end to the evening and despite the quality of the performance I couldn’t help but feel slightly cheated. With two albums worth of material, I would have thought the band could play for more than an hour, even if they intended to not come back on stage. Still, definitely a band worth seeing live – this was my second time and I wouldn’t hesitate to see them again.