Saturday, 12 April 2008

LIVE: Art Brut, Stoke Sugermill. 19th February, 2008

As the icy breeze shifts through Stoke's Sugarmill, and the cheery intro to Art Brut's brilliant new single 'Pump up the Volume' filters through the crackly sound system, echoing throughout the intimate venue, the band take to the stage for the last night of their spellbinding UK tour, as the crowd wait impatiently, cheering and whispering to one another in anticipation. With the incredibly pretentious and self-adoring audience finally warming up to the fantastic band frantically playing before them, the quintet end the opener to this blinding set and crash into 'Bad Weekend' - their anthemic number off their dazzling debut album 'Bang Bang Rock and Roll'. Interrupted half-way through for an impromptu speech by the enigmatic Eddie Argos, his excitable stage persona addresses the admiring onlookers, proving to all lucky enough to be crammed into the tightly-packed venue that this is a band to remember.

"This is our first time here" declares the oddball frontman, following spins and grins demonstrated by the rest of this energetic five-piece, making up this addictive clan of art-rock darlings. With infectious bouncy numbers such as 'Blame It on the Trains', it's easy to see why so many love this group, despite being sneered upon by so many elitist snobs. With the amazed collective of fans dancing and cheering away to the showcase of songs displayed to them with a point and a handclap, the atmosphere in the nippy venue is almost as excitable as the smiles on the audience's faces.

As the evening's proceedings draw onwards, and the drop in temperature becomes slightly more bearable due to frantic dancing, jumping and shouting, the band play their hearts out; whirling, twirling and clambering upon cement blocks as fangirls and boys alike chant each lyric with an irrepressible smile. Bopping and jumping away, the crowd mirror the spirits of the group before them, giving 110% to the ecstatic teens leaning onto the stage, grinning at their idols standing ahead of them, taking in the electrifying show thrust upon them.

Playing like the perfect pop group that never was, Art Brut seem set to fill this position. As the gang of obsessive's reach out as rhythm guitarist Jasper Future jumps and spins, perfectly choreographed with Eddie's clambering and climbing upon raised plinths and the occasional lie-down, singing directly to the girls in the front row, chanting each word without fail.

Following the occasional stage-dive and some impressive chants and conversations with the crowd, the band leaves the stage with the rapturous 'Nag Nag Nag Nag' and each participant in the sweaty, overjoyed audience chant "Art Brut Top of the Pops!" as though their hearts were dependent on it. With a spur-of-the-moment change of setlist, the band rejoin the stage with the pop-rock gold of 'Formed A Band', receiving an overwhelming reception from the crowd, who are clearly thrilled, and make no bones about showing their emotions to the sweaty band before them.

With their witty lyrics and inspiring monologues, it's clear to see the connection between the fans and the group. With different lines being pertinent to different people and different interpretations twisting the songs into something more relevant to the enamoured fan, it's evident that Art Brut are more than just a band to these exhausted, ecstatic teens. The chemistry within the band shines through, and enhances each song into a dazzling, radiant indie-pop hit. With crowd-surfing, sing-along's and an extreme amount of energy all demonstrated within the ice-cold venue this evening, it appears that Art Brut's jerky, angular pop has won once again.

As Argos once said – "Look at us! We formed a band"

Olivia Jaremi

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