Live: The Naked And Famous + Spark at Heaven, London (15 Feb '11)
Heaven is apparently a place on Earth. In London. In a weird spot between PriceWaterhouseCoopers and some sort of mini shopping centre. And it played host to one of the 2011 NME Awards Show gigs, with a pretty ace line up of Spark, Wolf Gang and headliners, The Naked And Famous. Good enough to sell out well in advance. And on the night of the Brit Awards too - check this website for a hearty laugh or two).
We bigged up Spark in August 2010 after being impressed by her bombastic debut single, 'Shut Out The Moon'. I may well be wrong but that song seemed absent from her live set but regardless, the night was kicked off in an impressive fashion. Opening with a tweaked version of recent single 'Revolving' immediately captured the sparse audience's attention and as hit after hit after hit (and an Eminem and Rihanna cover, see below) was delivered, the audience grew substantially.
Her trio of backing musicians also brought a significant energy and fuller sound to the set which I feared might be missing. I'm confident Spark will replicate the success of fellow sassy pop sensation Marina & The Diamonds when her debut album eventually drops, hopefully later this year.
I took a break from the next support act Wolf Gang so I can't really talk a great deal about them, other than that their 'Lions In Cages' single remains a magnificent pop song. I can moan about there being a toilet attendant at Heaven though. Boo-urns. Although the one in the gents' loo was good natured and didn't badger me for money. So I actually gave him a quid.
Anyway, before long it was time for New Zealanders The Naked & Famous to come onstage, and the venue finally felt packed to the rafters. It's a shame then that the band never quite fulfilled their billing as headliners, and much as I suspected, their two storming synth-pop singles 'Young Blood' and 'Punching In A Dream' are head and shoulders above their other material.
Oddly, listening to some of the other recorded material from their debut album (yet to be released on these shores), I actually rather enjoy most of it. But at the time, tracks like 'Girls Like You' and 'Frayed' felt long-winded and terribly dull. Not that I was the only person to feel this way, as most of the audience stood motionless and perplexed for at least a couple of the songs.
With a bit of a setlist rejig, The Naked And Famous may well be worth catching at summer festivals. For now, I'm not quite convinced. Oh and thanks to my pal, Fiona, for being a human version of Shazam during the headline set, helping me out with the song titles.
STREAM: Spark - Love The Way You Lie (Eminem & Rihanna Cover)
STREAM: Wolf Gang - Lions In Cages
STREAM: The Naked and Famous - Punching In A Dream
The Naked And Famous are touring around the UK now, more details at their website.