Amsterdam - 12 Bar Preston - 8.5.05

Behind the stage of 12 Bar is a poster of John Peel with the words "teenage dreams are hard to beat". It's an appropriate and touching moment as one of the late DJs favourite bands was indeed Amsterdam. Playing for the very first time in Preston, the band have brought a legion of fans with them who have religiously followed the exciting Liverpool 5 piece for some time. They play passionate, uplifting pop rock with boundless energy. If you can imagine Dodgy with an edge, mixed with Dexy's Midnight Runners with the lyrical dexterity of Ian Dury then you'll have an inkling of the power of Amsterdam.

Most of the songs Amsterdam play are crowd pleasing raucous anthems with sing along choruses, gorgeous melodies and three part harmonies, but there is a quieter, more subdued and melancholic side to the band such as the song "Understanding Sadness" which goes out to all the broken hearted people. This sensitive ballad is sparse and beautiful with just acoustic guitar and the softly played keyboards of Kevin Spurgeon.

The rockablly country tirade on the Royal Family "Raid The Palace" is a "God Save The Queen" for the youth of today, but even more tongue in cheek with a defiant refrain of "na na na na na", which is one way to avoid a gig at the Princes Trust and a knighthood to boot. Bizarrely enough there's a Bez style character who dances on stage throughout their set.

Next single "Does This Train Stop At Merseyside?" has been receiving a lot of attention and airplay recently and it's performed in memory of John Peel who adored the song with it's affectionate, political and soul searching lyrics and haunting mood it evokes in the process. The keyboard player gets told off by the frontman for his jauntyness and tease him about turning the band into Kraftwerk as the musicians disdain turns to laughter.

It doesn't take the band long to return to the stage for a rendition of the frontman's former band Pele's hit single from the mid 90s "Megalomania" which as a blast from the past is irresistible. The only cover version of the evening is saved right till the very end and it's a winner on every level. The Jam's "Town Like Malice" and a few of the less inhibited fans start dancing around with glee.

Amsterdam are on the cusp of success and when their album is released could being to be as popular and recognizable as fellow Scousers The Coral and The Zutons

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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