Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Early Years / Wolf & Cub @ The Luminare, 19 Feburary 2007


I hadn’t been to a gig for three weeks, so it was a welcome return as I went up the steps at the Luminare on Monday night. I’ve seen The Early Years a couple of times before, but this was the first in a headline slot. Pleasingly, things seem to be gradually looking up for this annoyingly under-rated band. They're doing a short tour to promote their new EP, The Great Awakening.

But before I get to them though, I’ll deal with the support act – Wolf and Cub, all the way from Adelaide, Australia. These guys have been supporting fellow Aussies Wolfmother on some pretty big European dates, but are now coming back down to earth with a bump and playing small venues in Britain and ‘lesser’ support slots like this one.

“A bit like psychedelic metal” as my friend described them. I reckon that’s a fair description. There’s plenty big sweaty blokey guitar action, and they cut some mean rawk poses on stage, whilst flailing their hair around. However, they’re not just meat and potatoes rock – they do make an interesting noise, and the bass even threatens occasional funkiness. To be honest, though I don’t know much about this kind of music, I reckon they’re probably better than a lot of their peers. And way better than Wolfmother. But it’s just not my cuppa tea. It was interesting, but left me pretty unmoved. Their gimmick is having two drummers, but I don't think they really make the most of it – if you closed your eyes, you’d never know there was more than one.

Their album Vessels is out on 4AD in April (pre-order). You might enjoy it. Currently I'm struggling to get into it.

Download: Wolf and Cub – Vessels
Download: Wolf and Cub – Vultures


The Early Years on the other hand make the most of all of their instruments and effects. Theirs is an impressive show, as they swathed the venue in sheets of noise, pummelled us with bass, and thrilled us with their lovely melodies.

After four songs in, it stuck me that this is a band with an fine collection of songs. I thought that after launching with a blast on All Ones and Zeroes, and following up with So Far Gone, Brown Hearts and new EP lead track Say What You Want To, they’d have run out of ‘big’ songs to play. But there were plenty more. The highlight for me was when they locked themselves into their stunning Krautrock-style grooves, which after a while became quite hypnotic. This was most fully realised on their glorious set-closing rendition of The Simple Solution. Momentarily I wished that they could have played that all night. But then they were gone off stage, and I thought that it was all over. However, they did return for an encore, but not one of these well-planned, already on the setlist ones. They responded to audience pressure to return and played Things before I went home satisfied.

Sometimes I think that The Early Years are a band with massive commercial potential, especially on the quieter, more melodic songs from their self-titled debut album. There’s even plenty for fans of that Big Anthemic Indie Rock stuff to enjoy here. But I’m sure that they’d be quick to put their lighters away when the band crank up the noise, or get confusingly experimental. That may be their commercial undoing, but it’s the very reason that I like them so much. Long may it continue.

Download: The Early Years – The Simple Solution
Download: The Early Years – Things

Buy The Early Years and The Great Awakening EP from Amazon, or download the EP on mp3 from Tune Tribe.

Early Years pics from Three Pink Monkeys. Dodgy Wolf and Cub pic from my phone. That’ll teach me to leave my camera at other people’s houses…

1 comment:

Crablin said...

I saw you there. You were with my friend Natalie for a while.

Word.