Oxford Street at 8 O’clock on a Friday night abounded with party-going clichés – tottering trios, proud males displaying their latest conquests and gangs of red-blooded males greased up in their finest in the ever hopeful belief that tonight’s their lucky night. Let’s just say the 100 Club entrance was looking very appealing.
Having heard of the club’s intriguing history I was not disappointed when hit by a wave of nostalgia brought on by the plethora of memorabilia adorning the walls. Van Susans must have felt this more than anyone; perhaps intending to subliminally link their boldly unique blend of folk-rock with the greatness of the icons that had treaded that same simple stage before them.
Up first to support, and to plug their debut single ‘Sooner or Later’ were Canvas Wall, whose website hadn’t given much away musically though cheesy pseudo-philosophical quotes from band members namely frontman Simon’s “A painter paints on canvas, but musicians paint their pictures on silence”, took pride of place.
This was not a good start, but as they took to the stage and started banging out classic alt-rock with the glee of a child opening ‘The big present’ at Christmas past assumptions abruptly disappeared and were replaced by spasmodic head-nodding brought on not only by the band’s aural integrity but by the barely contained percussive mayhem that led from the back.
Having rocked the audience into a state of cerebral satisfaction Canvas Wall left the stage clear for The Lunar Pilots, a band whose myspace page promised great things and who were there to promote their new EP ‘Beautiful Game’. Describing their musical output, amongst other superlatives, as “…a winning combination of great songs played with all the energy and passion you’d expect from a band striving for success”, this writer was chomping at the bit especially given the fact they were playing after such a great opening set.
If they had really wanted to use this platform as a means to boost sales and their group’s career then it didn’t show. Yeah, the music was tight, professional and displayed a musical ability far beyond many others on the scene, but perhaps they should stick to what they’re best at; recording.
Whoever chose their wardrobe should be shot. Enough said in that respect. Feelings of pity for the frontman grew as his desperate solo efforts to liven up the audience failed thanks to a band so unacquainted with the word charisma that it was painful, leaving them like a wedding band in their waistcoats and sensible haircuts. A real disappointment.
As the crowd surged towards the stage and grew to such a size there was little room to move Van Susans appeared to joyful woops and cheers. With a set (unsurprisingly) loaded with tracks from their EP such as the unfailing crowd-pleaser ‘Bones’ and the hook-laden ‘Cha Cha Bang’, whose chorus would leave The Frey green with envy, the band bravely peppered it with freshly-penned numbers that would silence any questions over their creative resources and which showed glimpses of what to expect from their upcoming album.
The band were in their element, having already played to packed houses at London’s Indigo 2 and The Camden Grand and it showed, with their ease and effortless banter being contagious as the crowd played with balloons like children (but in a good way!).