The Kleine Zaal at the Paradiso was packed to capacity for last night’s gig by these not-at-all scruffy young chaps from Reading. The lead singer is remarkably well-spoken: I could imagine him leading a delegation from the UK Foreign Office to the United Nations. He sings well too, a little bit Bowie, a little bit British-version-of-Brandon Flowers. They play pretty good guitar-driven pop rock. At times there are three electric guitars, bass, drums and three voices, adding up to a full sound that, on the best tracks, is as good as any guitar pop I’ve heard.
The problem for me was that they didn’t really have enough strong material to fill the hour-long set they played. It went a bit flat in the middle as they played four or five unremarkable songs that all blended into one for me. If they took the opening couple of tracks, plus the last few tracks of the main set and the two from the encore, they would have had a blistering 30 minute set and really created a buzz. (It annoyed me that they held two of their best songs for the encore – if a band has only two reasonably good albums of material to choose from it’s kind of insulting to hold good tracks in reserve for an “impromptu” encore.)
So they were good and will probably do well in the early evening slots at summer festivals across Europe. But they need a few more catchy tunes to really set the world alight: in comparison I can think of a Maximo Park gig I saw a couple of years ago in Fribourg, Switzerland, when they too were two albums into their career. On that night every tune grabbed the attention of the audience and the energy levels from the band, and in particular the lead singer, created a much livelier, more intense atmosphere. Pete and his Pirates aren’t there yet. But they’re such nice polite chaps that I hope they make it!