Saturday, 10 May 2008

LIVE: Lightspeed Champion/ Operator Please / Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man

Venue: Manchester Club Academy
Date: 05/05/08
First up were Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man with a phenomenal live performance for a band first on the bill. Energy and talent swirl around the ex-Les Incompetent front man and the blend of eerie subject matter and haunting guitars and synth couldn't be further away from spiky indie-pop if it tried. Like disconcerting chamber music but with an endearing, popular twist. Chamber pop, perhaps?
Dev sneaked on stage to play guitar in their last song and material like "Fatherhood" and "Matter of Time" was executed with precision and passion.

Operator Please took a completely different take with bouncier sounds and ferocious violin making up most of their set. The vocals have a tinge of "The Noisettes" about them and songs like 'Leave it Alone' have potential to be dance-floor classics. Blending a menagerie of instruments, strong vocals and that undeniably addictive Ping Pong song they had most of the audience dancing and bobbing about. Highlight of the night had to be watching a man of at least 50 with a beer-belly and fashionable goatee punching the air and singing along despite evidently not knowing any words other than "ping pong".
Lightspeed Champion have evolved ten-fold as a live band. From bashful and awkward on stage to engaging in almost full blown conversation with members of the audience there is a departure from apologies and mumbling. Launching through "Galaxy of the Lost", "No Surprise" and "Tell me What its Worth" with skill and sureness a confidence surrounds the band. Dev Hynes still retains some of that bashful awkwardness that makes him such an endearing front man, though. Dealing with one girl yelling out "Can I be your girlfriend?" he fends the question off with a couple of blinks and by launching into another song. Getting Fred from Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man on-stage and Dev setting up stall behind a drum-kit they did a cover song and before launching into the epic "Midnight Surprise" came a rendition of the Star Wars theme tune; showing the sense of humour hasn't been lost amidst the tightening up of live performances.
Vocals which soar over the crowd coupled with the violins, guitars and drums gives the folk-esque genre a new twist and new material played sounds even better than earlier stuff with a more guitar-led twist. Finally shaking off the Test Icicles cloak which veiled him at the beginning of his new musical endeavour Dev has proved that the songs are filled with talent and wit and now a new sense of refinement and confidence.


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