Review of Spector w/ Golden Arm & Spring King @ Electric Circus, 20/10/2015

Written by Liam Dickson @ FEAST
There was a positive atmosphere the moment I walked into Electric Circus tonight, you feel it on occasion – some kind of general amicability throughout the venue, everyone here for a good time and aware of it in those around them, no deadpan posers leaning against the back wall judging the dancing free spirits down the front and nobody vying for more attention than the bands on the bill. Spector have come straight up the A1 (presumably) from London to Edinburgh for only the second time in support of their new album ‘Moth Boys’ and beat my expectations, performing for a teaming Electric Circus.
3-piece Golden Arm are first on the bill tonight, sounding to some degree like Franz Ferdinand but far more like the old-skool Scottish post-punk scene they were influenced by – Josef K, Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, that lot – and the singer sounds the absolute spit of Edwyn Collins! Up-beat, quick-paced and non-pretentious, their obvious light-heartedness comes through in the music they play and their stage presence. “You’re here to see Spector, I presume?” says the singer; “Well, if they’re here to see the Kooks they’re f*cked!” the drummer chimes in, a solid backbone to the band. The solos sound almost Dire Straits-y and bass and guitar chords move together in big chunky blocks spanning all frequencies. The guitar could have done with a tad more treble to help it cut through the mix just a little bit, but that’s about the only hole I could pick in the set. They have an EP coming out on the 31st October, be sure to check it out!
The main support tonight is from Manchester outfit Spring King who were so much fun! Coming on stage looking like a right motley crew of trucker caps, beanie hats and brandless baseball tops, their high-energy set never relented (apart from one slow one near the end), breakneck indie beats and brash guitars awash with fragmented sharp snippets of reverb and layers of Lennon-esque vocal delay, as in lots of it but not for very long. ‘Can’ sounds like a sweetened Ramones spliced with a slightly less deranged Dead Kennedys – “If I’m not dead, If I’m not dead I’m going home!”, sings the drummer stroke singer stroke front man (quite a mouthful) – and ‘Batman’ was the best of bunch in my opinion, the best example of pace and playing style converging into what is essentially surf-punk without the ‘surf’ clichés, if that’s make any sense at all. “Tonight, I just wanna be somebody else, somebody new” – innocent, youthful lyrics derived from a world of comic book kitsch. ‘My Sleeves’ is that afore mentioned slower one, it’s chilled Motown-like beat playing backing to lyrics both sweet as sugar and weirdly abstract – “Take my hand, take my hand with you”, an odd image if you think about it for too long – the song being filled out with a solo like a more abrasive Mac DeMarco. The band looked like they were having the time of their life pogoing away, except the drummer/singer who was too in the zone and, well, too seated to do the same but his ability to thump away on the kit and still turn in a flawless and composed vocal performance was impressive to say the least.
Headliner time: front man Fred McPherson comes bounding onstage looking, erm, different to how I’d imagined he would; publicity shoots from the first album era look like rejected applications for Made In Chelsea, suits as sharp as a button, the kind of neurotic quiff fixing that Alex Turner is getting a bashing for (not too much of a shock to see some of their past gigs have been sponsored by Topman), and I’ve not exactly been keeping up to date with the band. So I wasn’t expecting a not-so-fresh plain white t-shirt and unkempt ponytails! But if that’s what he’s comfortable wearing, then go for it; stages aren’t catwalks after all, and this more ‘unrefined’ attitude permeated into the performance. The place was packed, and I mean PACKED, the cheers and post-song applauds bigger than you’d think possible in a venue of this size. Spector serve as an almost pop and rock melting pot, the most popular comparison being The Killers, which I find reductive; yeah, big choruses, guitar, 80’s synths, fair enough, but it’s far too easy a comparison. I hear indie rock, new wave, new romantic, synth pop, some straight-up balladry and the tongue is undeniably pressed firmly against the cheek despite the honesty and veiled pain hidden between the lines creeping through. McPherson is a born front man, his over the top mic-stand maneuvers and dynamic use of the limited space on stage would be hackneyed if deployed by anybody else – with McPherson it seems more than natural. He downright refuses to shy away from the audience, maintaining eye contact that makes you feel like he’s peering into your soul (I got it a couple of times, he locks your gaze!) and leaning about as far into the audience over the edge of the stage as gravity would allow – the people down the front must have been able to smell his scent and a lucky few got to hold his hand whilst he crooned directly for them all Romeo and Juliet. New cuts ‘Decade of Decay’ and ‘Cocktail Party’ went down a storm, and these fresh songs were equaled out with picks from the debut so as not to lean to heavily either way. I was never that sure of Spector before tonight but they’ve definitely converted me now. Top set!

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