Review: Lower Than Atlantis at Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (29/07/14)

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For years, rock music has been very much apart from the main drag of contemporary music, to the extent that a rock band could have a number one album in practically every western nation and still be completely unfamiliar to the average man on the street. But, recently, there’s been something of a shift. A new generation of British rock bands have sprung up, and started to bridge the gap between your average person and rock music. No carefully curated stage costumes for these guys; just jeans, t-shirts, and earnest, guitar driven songs about the everyday struggles we all face. One of the most popular bands of this new breed is Lower Than Atlantis, who even managed to get one of their songs featured on ‘Made In Chelsea’, surely the symbol of true mainstream approval. Add that kind of money-can’t-buy publicity to last year’s critically acclaimed slot on the main stage at Reading and Leeds and it’s fair to say that expectations for Lower Than Atlantis on their most recent tour were pretty high.

However, unlike Lower Than Atlantis, their support band Decade didn’t show any signs of being a band that could ascend to the upper echelons of the British rock scene and become one of the chosen few who possess the much coveted ‘crossover appeal’. They had some catchy songs, and their sound was a perfectly pleasant halfway point between pop rock and pop punk, but overall, their musical style was a little bit generic. Also, they weren’t helped by a muddy sound mix that made the vocals sound slightly weak and underpowered.

Lower Than Atlantis, however, could never be described as underpowered in any sense of the word. The band came out on stage to a massive roar of approval from the crowd and immediately launched into their newest single ‘Here We Go’, which proved their status as the best band on the bill by a country mile, and their set was packed full of anthemic songs with some indecently catchy hooks. They’re not the most original band in the world, but they certainly seemed to thrill the crowd packed into the sweltering Wedgewood rooms.

Mike Duce proved himself once again to be the consummate rock frontman, handling technical difficulties with aplomb and peppering his foul-mouthed banter with entertaining, if somewhat esoteric, references to Beyonce. He wasn’t just there as a glorified comedian though, he gave some great vocal performances throughout the show, managing to triumph convincingly over the somewhat sludgy sound at the venue. Particular highlights included fan favourite ‘Marylin’s Mansion’, ridiculously catchy new song ‘English Kids In America’ and slower number ‘Another Sad Song’. Duce’s raw vocals practically cracked with emotion as he sang and the crowd raised their lighters and phone screens in the air with no provocation, which all added up to make a rather affecting moment, in a show that was otherwise all about high energy rock fun.

Overall, Lower Than Atlantis managed to give a great performance in spite of a couple of minor technical difficulties, and certainly proved why they have the ability to unite all kinds of music lovers.

 

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