First thing is that The Early Years seem to have got a bass player. Last time I saw them, they were sans bass, which at the time didn't seem to be a bad thing, but the difference is noticible. It does sound better. But maybe that's also to do with something else that's changed - the venue and the sound system. I always thought that the band would sound better at Cargo than Madame Jo Jo's and I wasn't wrong. They sound pretty amazing tonight. And as well as their normal wonderfully noisy fayre, they play Brown Hearts off their new self-titled debut album, which is surely an indie anthem in a fairer word. It prefectly models the quiet/loud dynamic, and is post rock with better tunes. The other major thing that's changed for me is that since my last review, I have started to listen to some Krautrock. Neu! seemed like a good place to start, and goodness me, what a place! And you know what? After all that wondering I did before - I can now totally see where TEY are coming from. You just need to hear the start of Hallogallo to realise that. It's probably made me appreciate The Early Years even more.
What's changed with iLiKETRAiNS is that they're the headline band, and therefore have more time to play more of their moody atmospheric rock, full of swirling guitars and lyrics addressing arcane subjects such as Captain Scott's Antarctic expeditions, former chess champion Bobby Fischer and cutbacks to the British Rail network in the 1960s. So it seems that vintage British Rail jackets they wear are not just a reference to their name, but a dedication to certain specialist interests in the band. This is also augmented tonight by projections from an old-skool slide projector and reel-to-reel projector providing introductions to each song, and slides or film clips in jerky sepia to accompany the music, all handled by the trumpeter in between loud blasts of his instrument. Sometimes he plays and projects at the same time. There's a cracking encore where the band invite members of the support band and other friends onto the stage to act as a kind of male voice choir to recreate the spooky backing vocals to The Beeching Report. It all works rather well.
The other big thing to change for iLiKETRAiNS is unrelated to tonight's gig, but they have signed a deal with Beggars Banquet, so hopefully next year, their dark brooding charms will be more widely available. Who knows, the nation's indie kids could even acquire a liitle more specialist knowledge. Which may help with Trivial Pursuit.
Both The Early Years and iLiKETRAiNS are bands with a carefully constructed sound, lots of layered guitar noise, and not a lot of variation in their style. Both will hopefully go on to greater things, but wide mainstream appeal will surely elude them. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. And despite what I predicted in my previous review, TEY didn't quite blow iLiKETRAiNS off the stage at this gig. But they definitely edged it.