One of their main problems is that the whole band looks distinctly uncomfortable, like they don’t really want to be there; they just stand there not doing, or moving, much letting the stage swallow them. At one stage in the set, we get treated to a bit of acoustic guitar as they go about proving that they’re not one-dimensional with a song that’s really quirky and youthful. Well, for one song that is as nothing prepare me for how much the next song sounds like ‘Spaceman’ by Babylon Zoo, the resemblance is uncanny.
The more people talked through the set, the more it becomes apparent that most people are there to see the Music, something not lost on the Engineers themselves. This impatience isn’t helped by the fact that it’s freezing in the crowd because the air con is on full. Until the final song everything has seemed quite level and as if the band haven’t really got out of neutral yet – until the final song when the whole thing goes mental (at least musically anyway). The tune explodes in a wall of sound and we can finally hear that the singer has a good voice when he gets going – it’s a colossus with a frenzied and manic ending. However, it leaves you wishing that the rest of their set had been like that.
By now, anticipation is getting pretty high has people begin piling towards the stage. You just know that it’s going to be a blinder of a gig, that is when the band finally come on. After what seems like an eternity, they come on (minus singer Rob Harvey) to a reaction nothing short of rapturous and, within minutes of the first note being played, the whole crowd is dancing like crazy, it’s amazing. Harvey comes on shortly afterwards, starts singing and, suddenly, I’d rather be nowhere else. Somebody shouts out ‘Rob Harvey is a God’ and I’m half inclined to agree with him.
So, the set starts off with the Dance, and follows on with the title track off the new album ‘Welcome to the North’ and I think I’ve fallen in love with a song and a band. The Engineers were OK but, compared to these guys, they’ve got nothing on them. Harvey’s voice is wrapped around the pounding, psychedelic beats. These are tunes which fill the whole venue and the crowd don’t stop moving. Neither does Harvey for that matter, who appears to be tensed up and kind of nervous. But this is rock you can dance to, so we dance on.
There’s a fair mix of old and new, with both albums going down equally as well. The fact that Harvey doesn’t really seem to be comfortable is borne out by the shy, almost mumbled in-between-song speech – it doesn’t matter though as his voice sparkles. He’s a ball of energy that really gets into the music, spinning and thrashing (for want of a better word) about like a man possessed. But, it’s not just about him, the rest of the band are on top form, belting out some blinders. There is an awesome version of ‘The Truth is No Words’ before the band go onto show that they can do happier songs too in the shape of ‘Human’ – for this being the first time I’ve seen them, I think by now I’m converted.
Not only is the set quite varied, it’s a long one not that, that stops people dancing or at least moving in some way – the Music have that effect on you. Every single tune rocks, but one of the highlights of the gig is the 15 minute version of new single, Freedom Fighters, a song that builds and builds until you’re surrounded by sounds. It borders on being the best live version of a song I’ve ever heard. Tonight was always going to be about the Music, now I know why.