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Telegram live at Think Tank, Newcastle
First on the bill tonight a the tiny, shabby Think Tank are Big Figure, a local band of young'ns who play a short set of indie-by-numbers tunes. The music is competent but slightly turgid, like Oasis when they were going through the motions, or more accurately a young band that haven't quite found their feet yet. The most eye catching thing about them is their singer who has bags of confidence and peacocks around the stage with some dodgy moves which emulate Jagger, Presley and even a strangulated Kingsley Chapman (the last one might not be deliberate) with limited success. Fair play to the lad though, he does have a very good set of R&B lungs, like a young Eric Burdon. In fact, all of the musicians on stage are good at what they do, and with time, and an improving set of songs, I'm sure they'll do OK.
Next up are Jesuits, a 4-piece from Bristol who are much more of a finished article. They look like a band, albeit one that's been cobbled together from various 90s influences and the sound they emit is fierce but at the same time full of clarity (so kudos to soon guy too). There are elements of grunge and shoegaze on display along with some Graham Coxon style wizardry from lead guitarist James and some QOTSA dessert rock creeping in on the more upbeat numbers. Just think of their local peers Spectres, but with their wall of sound painted in much lighter shades and you'll be in the right ball park. This is the sort of set that makes you pity the poor souls who skipped the support bands.
Headliners Telegram have been picking up a bit of momentum recently, with plenty of airplay on 6music and the like. It seems that things are going swimmingly for this "anglo-welsh" band of long-tall misfits. Before they start, singer Matt Saunders meticulously customises the in-house lighting, unplugging and plugging various bits until it's just a low-light mild-strobe. Such DIY attention to detail is instantly endearing and puts the band on the right footing for an energetic set of spiky pop gems, played with gusto to an engaged audience that even do the unthinkable, and move to within a few feet of the stage (Jesuits attempted to coax the audience into their bosoms with little to no joy). Highlights include the instantly hummable "Taffy Come Home" which I've still got wedged in my skull 2 days later. Telegram's sound seems familiar but it's strangely difficult to pin down. I can usually compare the shit out of anyone (see above) but this band, despite their ultra retro look and despite the Bolan mannerisms fail to be anything but themselves. Much of this might be to do with the unusual vocal style of Saunders or the slightly offbeat nature of their melodies (which are admittedly bedded in the classic rock sound of yore), but whichever way you look at it, it makes for an engaging and fun filled set.