Ting Tings - Manchester Apollo - 26.2.09

Manchester’s much-loved Apollo is a little like a drunken middle-aged aunt; the cracks are showing and you really wouldn’t want to see her in daylight but you just cannot imagine a proper party without her. And so the old girl once more opened her arms to last year’s next big thing - Jules de Martino and Katie White a.k.a. The Ting Tings - and invited them to blow out its cobwebs.

The ‘Tings’ backstory is widely known and does not need repeating here but it is easy to conceive, even permit, a certain smugness in returning to your hometown’s flagship music venue to play your best-selling hit album to an adoring packed house. If the Ting Tings feel like gloating, there’s no sign of it in an immaculately conceived and constructed hard working live show of raucous, jaunty energy that is some way from the pretty post-Britrock pop sound of We Started Nothing.

Support was provided by Ladyhawke, whose own success, one suspects, owes a good deal to Jules and Katie’s invasion of the mainstream. Like the headline act, Pip Brown’s band seemingly has a back catalogue of just one well-received album and the highlights were efficiently delivered to a receptive crowd. Finishing on Top Shop classic, My Delirium, Brown (likes: comparisons with Suzi Quattro, dislikes: comparisons with Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt) did more than enough to energise the masses ahead of the main event.

The Ting Tings’ set was an imaginative and inventive retelling of the album and the live looping of vocals and particularly the placing of Martino and his drum kit, the band’s engine room, stage-front gave for an honest, personal and technically accomplished performance. Opening on the piano refrain of We Walk, the loop machine was introduced almost before White herself which, is just as well, since once she took the stage, you couldn’t take your eyes off her.

Martino’s continual wearing of sunglasses indoors owes less to Bono and more to an eye condition that makes him sensitive to bright light but, significantly, the Ting Tings do emit a certain credibility and rock star cool that is not evident from the digital crispness of the album. The show is short – little over an hour – and is more or less bookended by their breakthrough track and biggest hits respectively, Great DJ and the booming finale, That’s Not My Name.

The new New Wave indie pop sound of the Ting Tings is not for everyone but, faced with such energy, noise and power and in such a venue; in 2009 at least, it is hard to imagine a party without them.

Stewart Darkin

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