Since the Arctic Monkeys have changed direction and are now heading into performance poetry deep space, there is a vacancy in the ‘Indie rock with intelligent and cutting lyrics and a northern vocalist’ dept. We have an applicant: Preston’s The Empire Police.
As they kick off straight into their latest release ‘By The Scenes’ its instantly apparent that there is a lot on offer here. Vocally there are similarities with Alex Turner but a little deeper and with bigger balls, musically the songs swoop and soar like a cross between the Arctic Monkeys and Two Door Cinema Club and are packed with intelligent pithy lyrics and a make use of a superb backing vocalist who harmonised brilliantly. The two guitar set up alleviates the possibility that they could be considered AM copyists, there is a complexity which rises above the initial familiar impact. Live they did not put a foot wrong. The sound quality at this 360 Club event was terrific and suited the band, the jangly guitar, the exceptionally cool funky baselines and a drummer who had quite a bit to do even though he generally looked like he was thinking about something else, all sounded clear. They could be slightly more animated on stage maybe but this is a band with songs that do most of the work for them.
In the music industry there are not many bands that make a serious living out of it, it would seem madness to try, but in the words of The Empire Police in their final song ‘Fine Lines’ : “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity”, don’t go calling the men in white coats just yet, there’s a supergroup sized gap to fill.
On this value for money bill there was also Leeds based Lunablind who ended up playing to their own family and friends, the bar staff and GIGsoup. The curse of being last on at a gig with no primary draw is the danger that by the time you’ve hit the stage the previous acts vanish taking every Tom, Dick and Auntie Mavis with them who travelled in support. But this did not deter this rocking three-piece! Sporting three pairs of Buddy Holly-esque glasses and looking ready to take down a forest of redwoods these unassuming young men ignored the lack of support and put on an energetic show filled with big riffs and complex vocals. Imagine if Ed Sheeran joined The Killers instead of appearing in videos with domestic abusers, that’s the vibe, Foals, Death Cab For Cutie, intelligent indie for grown ups.
The 8ft (maybe) bassist seemed to be barely in control of his legs as he meandered around stage they were that long, but the show was all about the front man. Quietly confident and self depreciating this was a charming performance from Sam Garbett. All the set list came from their EPs which show promise but it’s not quite clear why they needed to do a Kendrick Lemar cover when they have such good material themselves, it was the weakest moment of the set. Half an hour of good music later they finished and the small assembly of souls gave them a hearty round of applause, they deserved more but if they live up to their promise there may well be bigger crowds.