Review: The Hoosiers at Engine Rooms, Southampton

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Everyone’s favourite pop group from 2007 travelled to the South Coast, following a show in Birmingham the night before, to play at the Engine Rooms on Southampton’s waterfront.

Bracknell-based three-piece The Hoosiers are currently embarking on their ‘The Secret Service: On Tour’ tour, which commenced in Lowestoft on the 10th October and runs until the 1st November when it all comes to an end at The Engine Shed in Lincoln. The group had spent lunchtime at the University of Southampton to play a couple of acoustic tracks and conduct an interview as part of the new and revamped The Edge Sessions, before shooting off for soundcheck and other publicity commitments at the intimate Southampton venue.

The evening began with a set from Winchester/Brighton-based indie group Cavaliers, before keyboardist and percussionist Sam Swallow, drummer Alan Sharland and frontman Irwin Sparkes took to the stage, looking dapper in suits, in front a very mixed crowd; the front rows were filled with young teenagers, whilst standing further back were the adults and parents. Those in attendance remained very static and lifeless for the opening number of the set, but everything soon kicked into life when ‘Worried About Ray’ – the group’s debut single which peaked at number five in the UK singles charts back in 2007 – was played and get everyone bopping up and down (or at least tapping their feet).

Halfway through the set, the band left the stage, only for Sparkes and Sharland to appear on the floor, walked around, mingling with fans, whilst playing a tune with an acoustic guitar and a maraca. Swallow then reappeared on the stage to provide a few blasts of the trumpet whilst the other two remained on the floor. The group then returned to the stage having taken off their suit jackets where Sparkes revealed a jazzy shirt – a piece that didn’t look very breathable at all.

The Hoosiers played a variety of old and new material where they tried to promote those tracks from their latest album, The Secret Service, which was released on the 9th October via their own record label, Crab Race. It wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist however to see that the vast majority of the crowd had just come to see the classics. The new tracks didn’t receive much of a reaction from those in attendance, but considering the album was only released a matter of days ago, that may come as little surprise. Without a doubt, those hit singles from their first album, The Trick to Life, which entered the UK album charts straight in at number one, evoked the biggest and best reactions from the fans.

Overall, The Hoosiers did their best with what they had. It was always going to be tough to get people going to the new material when it is their early stuff that they are still known for, but even so, Sparkes was energetic and charismatic, whilst Sharland provided the crowd with frequent comedy between tracks. The trio are still a lot of fun and will hopefully get back to former glory very soon.

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22 years of age and Live Editor here at The Edge. In my spare time you'll either find me on a basketball court dunking like Jordan (that may have been a dream...), going to gigs or attending stand-up comedy shows!

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