Tuesday 29 March 2011

Gig Review - The Naked and Famous @ Newcastle Riverside, 7/3/11

Photo by helloiain

It would be easy to mistake The Naked and Famous for yet another MGMT-inspired synth-pop band. After all, their two biggest songs 'Punching In A Dream' and 'Young Blood' are light-hearted, breezy crowd-pleasers: do they have enough depth and ambition to sustain a career (or at the very least an entire gig)?

The answer is an unequivocal yes. Live, The Naked and Famous are unexpectedly moody and intense, like a heavy rock band playing instruments usually associated with twee synthpop. Lead singers Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers shout into the microphone to a backing of buzzing synths and chainsaw guitars.

The songs are expertly transitioned between, often with a brief ambient section, maintaining the atmosphere and protecting the audience from Thom's godawful stage banter ("You guys have bottles of water called Volvic... sounds like vulva").

When the aforementioned singles are let loose, the crowd leaps about sing their hearts out. Though bouncier and far more chart-friendly than the rest of the set, they still manage to fit snugly.

A note about Riverside (a club in Newcastle, which has only been used for gigs recently): The audience were packed like sardines and it was unclear whether we were allowed up to the balcony upstairs. It makes for a nice and intimate venue though.

After an abrupt ending, the band comes back on for one more song and strip away the electronica to reveal their beating rock n roll heart beneath. Rock isn't dead: it's evolving into newer forms like The Naked and Famous, who have been absolutely mind-blowing tonight.

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