Support from Men, Women & Children.
It's so easy to criticise Lostprophets: take a band whose target audience is younger than Simple Plan's and a Welsh identity falsely covered up in a dire American accent and you have your hook. At Brixton Academy though, none of this appeared to matterâ¦
The supports were poor. 'The Blackout' came and went to a half empty arena and Men, Women & Children were disappointing on stage despite the potential in their music to excite. The band lacked any stage presence and on tracks such as 'At Night We Like To Fight' and 'Lightening Strikes Twice in New York', the fun aroused in the tunes was undermined by a group who weren't really enjoying themselves. Even the synchronised dance moves had an air of the 'do we have to?' about them. As the group ran about aimlessly on 'Monkey Monkee Men', it was obvious that unlike the Scissor Sisters, Men, Women & Children failed to toy with the ironic lack of taste that could have made them so colourful. Only final track 'Dance in my Blood' offered some redemption through its tight performance.
It's a likely possibility that Men Women & Children reflect much of the Lostprophets' new direction, what with 'Liberation Transmission' creating far more radio friendly pop than its predecessors. As they took the stage though, the band couldn't care less. Ian Watkins and co. knew they were going to play a terrific set and they did. Playing 15 songs from across their three albums, some of the older material got the greatest cheers; 'The Fake Sound of Progress' saw Brixton erupt with the pleasure of its sinister edge.
Frontman Ian Watkins has to be credited for his charisma set against the rest of the band who didn't move for an hour and a half. Both during and in between songs there was mutual respect, an admiration, an oddly mature understanding between audience and vocalist. Even I waited with baited breath as Ian mused with his audience, and I don't care much for either baiting or musing. The band clearly drew unbelievable confidence from the crowd. New single 'Rooftops' could have aroused fan euphoria without a note being played but as was their commitment, the Lostprophets live rendition captured all of its passion.
After 'Can't Catch Tomorrow', the band ask for one minute's silence to remember those who perished on July 7th 2005. It was a bold act with modest intentions. Ian, purposely ignoring the screams that pierced the silence sat sipping water, leaving the audience in awe at such authentic nu-metal morality. A newfound unity and feeling inadvertently made 'Last Train Home' that followed the highlight of the evening.
For Lostprophets the familiar theory couldn't ring truer; the sign of a good rock band is in their live performance. It's true that they applied themselves unbelievably but boy did the crowd appreciate it. After closing track 'Burn Burn' even the withdrawn parents at the back were smiling eagerly and as for the band, well they just gathered together like Pink Floyd at Live 8 and watched the chaos they'd just induced. Taking a casual look at the Lostprophets myspace this morning, the response was quite extra-ordinary. This is a band comfortable and confident in their live performance, able to stir tremendous passion in their audience but yet still genuinely humbled by them. The lyrics to 'Everyday Combat' run "Dance club, strip light, get drunk, no sight, watch it ignite": you would never expect such depth as was on display from watching the Lostprophets live.