Live Review

Smith Westerns, Deaf Institute, Manchester

The songs translate to live performance with immaculate ease.

We’ve all long since learnt that music cannot change the world, with Live Aid, Live 8 and all the rest merely being footnotes in cultural history rather than turning points. However, if there’s one thing that bands do possess, it’s the ability to fill you with a palette of emotions that you thought you’d forgotten. The glorious racket that Smith Westerns make is one intrinsically imbued with that – the utter energy that lay at the heart of their tracks never failing to get the pulses racing. Whilst the venue is far from capacity, the hundred of so souls at Manchester’s Deaf Institute know that they’re being treated to something special.

The band themselves look the living embodiment of cool youth, like they’ve been rejected from an Urban Outfitters modelling shoot for being too cool. They’re a four youngsters that only America ever seems to be able to produce, whilst the rest of the world’s youth hopelessly copies. They saunter on stage dripping with an effortless charisma. Throughout the set, they don’t do the banter that many of their contemporaries might try and deal with, letting the songs fill up the majority of their stage time. The songs translate to live performance with immaculate ease, with the distortion of their recorded works cast aside for immediacy and an urgency that is hinted at throughout their acclaimed debut.

Everything seems to have been sped up, meaning some of the efforts are nothing short of breakneck. Long time favourite ‘Gimme Some Time’ works especially well with this policy, sounding utterly euphoric in its delivery with none of the tuneful pop elegance of the original lost. However, the trade off is that the slower numbers feel pedestrian when placed next to their pacey counterparts. Probably the band’s best known song, ‘Be My Girl’ seems to get lost within itself, short of the punch that makes them such a force in the flesh.

What’s most obvious from the performance is that Smith Westerns are far from the flash in the pan hipster band that they might’ve been tagged as. Endorsement from the bandwagon hopping Peaches Geldof might’ve sounded like a death knell, but there’s a depth to the noise that belies the kind of scene grabbing that Bob’s daughter indulges in. Indeed, throughout the set there are clear glimpses of what drives the band onward – the T-Rex esque opening riff of ‘Girl In Love’, for instance, hints at a longevity that should outstrip the current lo-fi trend, whilst the themes of their songs – invariably girls, boys and love – is such precise base that there’s massive scope for progression on their next release. Arresting throughout, their set lasts a meagre 35 minutes, but the band’s brevity has always been one of their best aspects. They may be young, but the old trick of leaving the audience begging for more undoubtedly applies here.

Tags: Features

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