Live Review: The Cardinals/Mojo Fury/Apollo’s Arrows (March 2011)

First band Cardinals’ opening track was an unusual choice – very quiet. Starting at such a low volume seemed to promise a build up into heavier territory, though it never quite took off. Lead guitarist and vocalist Pattrik Callingham’s voice sounds bored, little more than a tired drone. They may have branded themselves as progressive rock but their set barely progressed, becoming a twenty-minute fade-in rather than a grand entrance.

Northern Irish trio Mojo Fury follow this with, refreshingly, the complete opposite. Within one song, the band had already achieved what Cardinals could not. Beginning with the sound of one man and his guitar, the layers built dramatically to a power ballad, with flawless harmonies from the singers. This was followed by a rapid and screaming track, sprinkled with electronic blips and bloops. They navigated the full spectrum of rock styles, from the quiet strumming of self-pitying indie rock ballads, to the pure anger of the . Over the course of a six-song set, they had squeezed the genre dry.

Headlining Southampton-based band Apollo’s Arrows take to the stage and perform the most unique set of the night. Their distinctive style, which they have named ‘retro surf math’, is a scrambled concoction of twisted time signatures and electronics. It’s fast, it’s furious and it’s frantic.

The beat-perfect performance is respectable and very impressive. However, this unpredictability is also the band’s downfall. The intense concentration the band puts in keeps them stationary, and only a couple of members of the audience are able to nod along, let alone jump. To those who haven’t heard them before, the tangled tracks are lacking in stand out themes. The only moments that differentiate the tracks, are the gaps between them. The heaviness of their sound and frozen atmosphere makes for an awkward clash.

Introducing penultimate track Eskobar as ‘our boring old song’ does them no favours, letting the crowd know that either they are overly nervous, have no pride in their work, or were forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel to gather enough material to fill their 25-minute set. Sadly, perhaps all of the above.

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