I generally do my best to avoid Hoxton on any given evening but I do like me some Thomas Tantrum so I popped down one April evening to see them headline at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. The Southampton quartet have subtly altered the wonky pop of their debut album, with the live set showing off some of their more mature indie-pop.
Their debut self-titled record was one of my favourite albums of 2008 and I've been eagerly anticipating the follow up. Of course, seeing a live act before the release of a new record always raises the dilemma of how much new material will be played. Thankfully, Thomas Tantrum included a healthy number of the golden oldies in their set.
Frontwoman Megan Thomas has adopted a noticeably softer vocal style - perhaps more in line with her own personality, which judging from her stage demeanour seems much sweeter than you'd expect from the shouty anthems of old. Even with the mellowed vocals, the older songs still work brilliantly live - there's an essence of excitement at the core of each track. And as the most recent single 'Sleep' showed, the band haven't abandoned the jaunty approach.
They have however broadened their approach - for example, with 'Face The Music', which seems almost like a musical love letter to The Smiths. The more shoegazey moments of the set made the new broader ambitions particularly apparent, especially on the set closer. But for me, it was all about those old tracks and reliving the joy I had when I first heard the likes of 'Swan Lake', 'Shake It Shake It' and 'Pshandy'.
Sadly, there was a little bit of "London syndrome" going on, with a not insignificant number of the audience static throughout. Of course, there was plenty of dancing too - some more befitting of a ballroom than a dark room in Hoxton. Maybe the band could have done a bit more to lift the atmosphere but I'd like to think, for the most part, everyone had a jolly good time. I certainly did.
DOWNLOAD: Thomas Tantrum - Sleep (RAC remix) by WorkItMedia
Thomas Tantrum are heading out on a UK headline tour in June, dates at thomastantrum.co.uk. The new album should drop later this year.