Newcastle SU Global Café
26th Jan 2006.
The radio 2 demographic is apparently changing the musical landscape. Easy listening, James Blunt inspired drivel is the latest kitsch for record labels. Unless you're from Sheffield and have a penchant for cold primates.
Cynics among you would probably putt Kubb slap bang in the middle of that grouping. Any band who as a four piece have a keyboardist risk falling foul of the Keane trap. That is to say be boring enough to bore the arse off, erm, someone so boring I'm actually struggle to remember who I'm thinking about.
However, I am a cynic, and I have to say Kubb have enough of an edge to miss this bracket. With a degree of self-deprecation reminiscent of Coldplay, but the melody and softly spoken sincerity to match, they do not need to reply on the singalong "anthems" of the aforementioned Radio 2 set.
Opening for them this evening, in the more intimate environment of the Global Cafe in Newcastle Union are the aptly named Story One. I say aptly named because there's a Coldplay song called Square One, incase you didn't know. However, what they lack in an inspiring name they make up for with one simple characteristic. The singer plays the violin. Liam Gallagher used to play, only he gave it up because apparently they're for girls. And to be fair, Story One aren't going to be booming out of your local's jukebox singing about giving up work in favour of tobacco and drink. However, you may well hear them utilising a ridiculous sounding idea to make some of the most original pop music I've heard in a while.
As for Kubb, well, I can't say I was overwhelmed by the adrenalin of the occasion. When halfway through the set one female member of the audience responded to front man Harry Collier's comment of "I hope you're enjoying your night" with a rather louder than intended "average" the laughter round the room echoed the general sentiment of the crowd, but also the band's discomfort of being regarded as an uninspiring band. With a set made up from tracks from their debut album, they show why they are touring small venues on the indie gig circuit, and not playing in Smash Hits sponsored gigs in sixth forms. Songs like "Alcatraz" or "Burn Again" combine melody with intensity, with enough of a bite to make it surprisingly difficult to ignore. Tonight's penultimate song, and the closest to a hit Kubb have had, Grow, embodies the curious success of Kubb. Sharp writing, lyrics that go beyond the standard and something I can't really put my finger on make for a band who will go far, and I don't even listen to Radio 2.