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Banquet Records, Kingston
Having previously been a huge Darwin Deez fan, I'd somewhat lost faith in the band since the release of their disappointing second album earlier this year. I hadn't had plans to see them on tour but then their participation in the show was announced very late when another band pulled out of New Slang, an indie club night run on Thursdays in Kingston, Surrey, by an independent record shop called Banquet Records. Banquet are really involved in the local community and are becoming very well-established: their in-store gigs are a great way to see and meet artists who are about to get big. Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale all started their careers playing in-store sets at Banquet Records. My ticket was £7 and I thought it'd be a good chance to catch up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while.
"When their good songs are so melodically interesting and so lyrically intelligent, it almost doesn't matter that their average songs produce feelings of complete indifference"
The venue was quite empty when we got there but soon filled up. The band began with the signature dance-offs which permeate their live show, which for me easily catapults them into being one of the most fun bands I've ever seen live. The dance led straight into the band's most recent single, 'You Can't Be My Girl', a great opener which a lot of the crowd seemed to know. Something tells me that the band has wised up to their less popular songs, as from thereon in the set was mainly debut album material. We enjoyed the classics, including my personal favourite, 'DNA', 'Constellations' and of course 'Radar Detector', along with an unusually moving rendition of 'Bed Space'. Most people knew all the words of the older stuff, which was a relief considering the mixed views the new album had received, not just from critics but fans themselves. The best numbers from the new album were brought out too, including the fast-paced but long-winded 'Free (The Editorial Me)' and the standout track of the album, 'Redshift'.
Seeing the band live hasn't brought me round to the new material, but it did remind me just how amazing Darwin Deez are. I'm not about to write how I suddenly love 'Chelsea's Hotel', because I still think it's a disappointing end to a disappointing album. But when their good songs are so melodically interesting and so lyrically intelligent, it almost doesn't matter that their average songs produce feelings of complete indifference. Looking around the crowd, I saw so many people who had dressed up as the frontman Darwin Smith, and so many people having a great time, that it didn't really matter that Smith's attempts to involve the crowd sometimes fell flat and the songs weren't perfect. Because when it works for Darwin Deez, it really works.
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