Amsterdam - 12 Bar Preston - 30.9.05
Amsterdam are back again at 12 Bar, a mere five months since their last visit. This time the venue is full with a lot of familiar faces, many sporting the natty Amsterdam T-shirts. Their album "The Journey" was supposed to come out earlier in the year, but now thankfully it's available in the shops and not before time, but it's as a live attraction the band are known for. I remember witnessing them in a very early incarnation at Manchester's Ritz supporting Billy Bragg a few years ago.
The frontman looks like one of those early curly haired Scouse caricatures Harry Enfield lampooned on National TV each week. He's joined by four tight chirpy musicians and of course Michael, their resident Bez style dancer and unofficial six member. It's a real party atmosphere with the beer flowing freely, fans singing along and even one audience member losing all inhibitions and dancing like a mentalist. Amsterdam sound like Dexy's Midnight Runners jamming to the luscious melodies of Squeeze with a touch of anarchy in their sound a political ideology which has much in common with Chumbawamba.
"Started A Brand New Day" is rocky, but naggingly catchy, quite typical of Amsterdam who know how to knock out crowd pleasing anthems effortlessly. Any accusations of laddish antics are soon dispelled though when unexpectedly midway through a song the singer kisses the guitarist full on the lips. The acoustic fragility of "Understanding Sadness" is both moving and beautiful with the crowd calming down enough to listen intently. They not only play new single "Takin On The The World", but it's B-side "You Can't Trust Anyone Anymore" with some classy mouth organ action. During the intro to "Does This Train Stop At Merseyside" a fitting tribute is made to John Peel who championed the band and played the single proudly on his show. Genuinely moving with a nostalgic look at the past with thankfully no mawkish sentimentality.
A cover of the Jam's "Town Like Malice", an acoustic solo spot and a rip roaring rocker close the set which delights the fans. Like their previous appearance in the city, Amsterdam are proving to be a popular band and if their album is a success the intimate confines of 12 Bar may not be big enough to cater for these likeable Liverpudlians.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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