Live Review: Canterbury, Attention Thieves and Morain – O2 Academy2, Newcastle – 26/04/2013

imageThe Academy is little more than half-full tonight which is a real shame given the strength of British talent that make up this touring trio. Perhaps because of this, both support acts struggle in a room conducive to dulling the live atmosphere. Morain fare okay, predominantly because they have the tunes to capture the room’s attention if not sweep them off their feet. They’re not your typical ‘warm-up’ act in that they never really get the blood pumping but songs like ‘Animals’ and ‘The World We Live In’ do at least ensure that most of tonight’s attendees will be googling their name when they get home. (3/5)

Attention Thieves on the other hand, are fighting a losing battle from the start. A late replacement for LostAlone on this tour, they mix punk rock and screamo to varying degrees of success and appear to almost overwhelm the young crowd. Frontman Alex Green tries his best to get the crowd on side but his efforts feel a little contrived as he has neither the natural swagger nor the laid-back panache that aid his contemporaries. Another crowd will receive Attention Thieves a whole lot better but tonight is not their night. (2/5)

All this means that Canterbury are facing an uphill grind tonight – quite literally, after the Academy lift breaks down with them inside but this near ‘Spinal Tap’ moment does not break their spirit. The Surrey lads are note-perfect as always and play material drawn mostly from last year’s ‘Heavy In The Day.’ That album’s slower moments, including ‘Wrapped in Rainbows’ and ‘Garden Grows’ sound particularly poignant and powerful. Both old and new are present in their set however, with two songs from their forthcoming, fan-funded third album enjoying an early outing.

Mike Sparks is quick to engage his apprehensive audience, finally managing to whip the Geordie patriots into a mass of bouncing bodies. His exuberant confidence never descends into something egotistical and there is a feeling present that I am witnessing the work of one of the UK’s most underrated bands, fronted by one of the UK’s most underrated frontmen. On the basis of this performance, I’m not sure what more Canterbury can do. (4.5/5)

3.5/5

Words by Chris Smith.

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