Saturday night’s billing at the O2 made for an curious contrast; on the one side Johnny Lloyd (formerly of Tribes) promoting his first solo EP Dreamland, on the other The Fratellis, commemorating the 10 year anniversary of smash hit album Costello Music. When support Lloyd takes to the stage before an absolutely rammed O2 it is clear that there is something of contrast in styles too. Lloyd certainly fits the mould of a noughties indie idol but his opening track Dreamland sets a beautifully wistful tone that is something wholly different from the crashing guitar music promised by the headline act. Lloyd seems to be drawing on a wide range of influences and not without success; single Pilgrims has a distinct 80s New Wave feel, while Hello Death is more of an indie folk anthem reminiscent of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The highlight of his set was undoubtedly the dreamy Happy Humans, with its wonderful guitar sound courtesy of Lloyd himself.
I found Lloyd a captivating performer and though he didn’t have the energy to really carry this crowd with him that was always going to be the challenge of playing to a room boiling over with anticipation for the headline act. Speaking to him after his set he seems to be enjoying the tour, describing every show like a ‘football match’, but I couldn’t help but wonder how things might have been different had he been playing to his own following. Nonetheless Lloyd clearly has a lot to offer, and he won’t be short of such opportunities with an album and another EP set for 2017.
The Fratellis stride on stage and launch straight into Costello Music’s opening track Henrietta, and the response of the crowd is immediate; screaming, moshing and tossing pints in every direction – a football match indeed. As promised the rest of the album follows, with personal highlights Creepin up the Backstairs and Got ma nuts from a Hippy. But as glorious as it is to hear all the old hits the group rarely engage with the audience and it left me wondering how invested they really were in the show. After all, they have just released a new album, and it seemed like they were rushing to get through Costello Music and onto this new material. It is harsh to blame them for trying to fit a lot in but the gig ended up feeling neither like a celebration of much beloved old hits nor a new album show. The group is sometimes included in the canon of ‘landfill indie’ but newer hits like the jovial Imposters are exhibitions of the group’s versatility and progress. Moreover even ten years on The Fratellis can still command a devout following of headbangers and their gigs remain a lot of fun. It’s a shame then that this show ended up feeling more like a commercial enterprise than honest, joyous nostalgia.
Review: Ludo Graham