The Drums – Live at Academy 1, Manchester, 06/12/2010

By Laura Hughes

“Genius” they said “One of the great hopes of 2010”.

Admittedly, it doesn’t take a lot these days to be plastered onto the front cover of the NME and heralded as the saviors of modern music, but lately it feels as if there’d be something afoot if The Drums hadn’t had some form of a mention in the nations’ favourite love-to-hate music rag for the last 571 consecutive issues.

Pegged with a lazy ‘surf-pop’ tag despite hailing from the opposite end of North America to the Beach Boys et al, the bands’ every sneeze is now deemed newsworthy enough to ram down the salivating throats of the album-buying masses.

A cheeky upgrade from Academy 2 to the larger venue next door is testament to exactly how many people want a piece of the band right now. Hipster boys with flannel shirts and bored expressions lounge at the back of the room alongside parents balancing small children atop their shoulders.

Groups of heavily-backcombed teenage girls who you suspect are only here because Aiden Grimshaw was booted off the X-Factor bob up and down manically to the jangly between-song music, eyeballing even the tiniest of spaces that might let them push closer to the front.

Suddenly, the lights go down. Sparkly synthesizer noise erupts from the speakers. The crowd roar as they wait for the band to take to the stage. And wait. And wait a bit more. After what feels like an eternity, three quarters of The Drums emerge from the shadows.

They bow, air punch and pick up their instruments but wait, something is missing. Suddenly, like a cross-breed between a Backstreet Boy and a Basset Hound, singer Jonathan Pierce hurtles towards the stage, limbs flailing in an almighty muscle spasm.

With a bowl cut that could only have been achieved with nail scissors and a dimly-lit room, Pierce prances across the stage like Morrissey in a baseball jacket, one hand behind his back as he yelps his way through ‘Best Friend’.

Miniature guitarist Jacob Graham, meanwhile, pirouettes from side to side like an extra from Billy Elliott, pausing to spasmodically throw his hands in the air like he’s trapped inside a box. You’d throw something at them if it wasn’t so hysterically funny.

Given the fact that a large chunk of their album is built around sunny, Smiths-esque guitar riffs, it’s unsurprising that Mancunians are clearly fans of The Drums. However, whereas Moz n’ Marr crafted clever lyrics and hooky melodies, tonight’s vocals are droning and samey. “I thought my life would get easier” Pierce whines on ‘Book of Stories “Instead it’s getting harder”.

Though catchy enough, there’s no real substance and – with the exception of the likes of ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ – you realise that if the band were British, they’d be playing second fiddle to The Maccabees. All art and no heart, tonight is a lukewarm hot-water bottle in the midst of a bleak Northern winter but little else. `

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