Soul Tree, Cambridge 1/2/06

My first thought, on an evening with the theme of Strike A Pose (if you've been to The Soul Tree, you'll have a fair idea of what I'm on about), is that Pilots of Japan are finding this pretty difficult. As in their performance is severely limited on the stage that isn't really a stage, and a set that should have seen the guitarist knocking the synth players head off in a blaze of indie mayhem never really got above 20bpm. Which is a shame. Because this is a band who should, by rights, be turning many more heads with their understated yet powerful blend of early 90's baggy spliced with more passionate hunks of melodic noise, akin to The Arcade Fire or The Pixies. Not bad for five lads from Hertfordshire. Apart from they also sometimes sound like Snow Patrol. Ignoring that fact, you can get their new CD, "The plan to reverse time" right now.

I swear that second support, Clearlake, used to be an acoustic-folk combo but they now go under the moniker of "The worst Strokes tribute band in the world ever". God knows why so many people crowded round when they appeared. Because all they delivered was an out-and-out musical tease, in which the songs began in a promising fashion until the ginger man with the silly beard started singing. At which point it turned into a kind of nightmare garage rock dirge. And then they brought out the harmonica… I think they call it selective amnesia but I can't remember much after that. Thank Goodness for small mercies.

Which, at risk of being puke-inducing, certainly includes The Crimea. Because I defy anyone not to crack a smile at the sound of this band and, what's more, in a good way. From the slow and twinkling set-opener, "Baby Boom", to the irrepressible "Girl just died" and, last but not least, recent jingly, warm and fuzzy pop-esque favourite, "Lottery winners on acid", the audience were more than suitably impressed as the band harmoniously nodded towards Grandaddy, leapt wholeheartedly towards Pavement and left singer Davey swerving from breathy and lazy to leering and sneering about wanting bird flu in the middle of an elated bubble-filled venue. Thus providing an infectiously entertaining end to the evening. It's that simple really. The Crimea's beauty being in that there is nothing obviously clever about them, merely an unpretentious kookiness, a coy yet twisted humour and a joyous grasp of the term "sing-a-long", combined with a magnificent live adaptation of "Everywhere" by Fleetwood Mac, makes this four men that will have you, yes, you, dancing in the aisles before this very year is out. Because if I wasn't humming their songs beforehand- (as a matter of fact I was, but there you go)- then I bloody well was afterwards. Which says a lot.

Thanks to Simon of Green Mind for sorting out the night for us. Much obliged.

Anna C.

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