I was keen not to miss out on an opportunity to see Broken Records again, particularly in the cosier confines of Bitterzoet. The last time they played Amsterdam was also a “double header” with Freelance Whales in the Melkweg. On that occasion more of the crowd had come to see the whiny pop of Freelance Whales, with the result that by the time Broken Records played the crowd had thinned out by about 50%. This time they were first up, but again it seems more people had come along for Young the Giant. An 8pm start in a not-quite-full venue – and the usual ignorant chatter from Amsterdam music “fans” – meant they had a mountain to climb to build the atmosphere.
But climb it they did and build it they did! Somehow managing to squeeze all six band members onto the tiny stage, they played a fantastic sixty-minute set that struck the right balance between the slow-burners and the more upbeat rousing folk-rock numbers. Nearly Home was a definite highlight, as was A Good Reason, which comes across like the Pogues with a Scottish accent and better dental work. The sound was a bit ropey at times, probably due to the cramped conditions, but it was another great set and a hard act to follow for Young the Giant.
The oddly named Young the Giant were definitely the more hotly anticipated act of the evening, judging by the cheer that greeted their arrival on stage. Their first few songs, sounding a lot like an American imitation of that Fratellis/View/Cribs new-Britpop-rock sound, were quite good. The lead singer (who doesn’t play an instrument, preferring to pose with his two microphones) certainly has a strong voice. Unfortunately, however, their single album of material wasn’t enough to sustain their sixty minutes. From the fourth or fifth song on it all went a bit flat, until their enjoyable finale of My Body, which I guess has been a radio hit around these parts. The crowd wanted more, but they probably didn’t have much more to offer. And in any case the Bitterzoet staff were keen to clear out the punters for whatever club night was following later (hence the uncomfortably punctual early start).
So, great to see Broken Records again – strongly recommended. Maybe the Paradiso, who promoted this gig, will consider having them headline in their own right the next time? Young the Giant have yet to prove themselves in my eyes (ears?). And my father-in-law, Jeff, who was definitely the oldest man in the room, had a whale of a time. He’s considering adding a Broken Records song to his karaoke repertoire!