Thursday, 27 September 2007

Live: Model Morning - London

Model Morning
The Luminaire, Kilburn, London, UK
Thursday 27 September 2007

In the early ‘90’s, a certain weekly UK music magazine controversially put then unsigned Suede on the cover with the caption "the best new band in Britain". Nowadays there is only one music paper, so there’s no competition, and no reason to look beyond the latest instalment of the Doherty saga. Then why should an Australian paper publish a review of an unknown British band when there are so many local acts that it could be covering instead? Well simply because Model Morning are creating something truly special, and the tired UK rock press hasn't even noticed them, as they don't fit into the current flavour of the day.

The set they play tonight is nearly identical to the one that first floored me around 18 months ago. Although many of the songs are now familiar, there have been significant changes in the interim. Most markedly, there’s been a near Spinal Tap procession of drummers, but with Ed Keenan they’ve found a driven player who pushes them further than before. This change has had reverberations throughout the band. The most noticeable hardening of their sound comes with Richard Davidson’s bass on We Are Gone, which now whacks you around the head and demands you pay due attention. There’s barely a pause between songs - they power along as though the world will end if they stop long enough for applause. While the songs have toughened up, some of the rock theatrics have calmed down, and the band is more powerful and impressive as a result.

Peter Morley has also developed as a frontman, and his voice is stronger than ever. When he sings his own backing vocals on Everybody's Drunken Friend, it seems so natural, and appropriate in the context of the inner voices of the song. He only really speaks to introduce This Town, which is a depiction of fear on the darker streets of their native Nottingham. Model Morning demonstrate that anthemic rock need not be embarrassing. Their music is clever, but not too showy; the atmospherics of Chris Moore’s guitars nicely complementing the more traditional attack of Rob McCleary’s playing. Their debut mini-album Your Worst Enemy only hinted at what they could do; their live performance is genuinely exciting and tonight they seem to have a new-found purpose and determination. The best new band in Britain? Perhaps…

© James McGalliard 2007
A version of this review appeared in Inpress, Melbourne, on 24 October 2007

Everybody's Drunken Friend
We Are Gone
Harry Haller Suicide
Whenever I Can
This Town
Without You I'm Lost
As Guilty As