Beta Band - Manchester University - 20.7.01

With a low budget Guy Richie style video sequence the Beta band literally come out guns ablazing but in typical shambolic fashion it all goes horribly wrong. Its not that its bad. Its more the fact that they just amble along safe in the knowledge that each song will get the obligatory cheer from the predominately student crowd. From the opening sequence to the final number there's almost a sense that just one day they'll be found out as the amateur indie kids they really are. If only they'd have realized what they wanted to with "Hot Shots II" and taken the beats and the rhythms to a whole new level.

Perhaps the saving grace are the visuals which thankfully help to distract from the soundtrack. Like late night Channel 4 director showcases there's a real sense of fun if not recognizable talent in the series of clips which seem to chuck in everything from plastic ducks to the aforementioned "Lock, Stock and not a budget between them" style intro. Again in typical BB style they choose to do an experimental indie version of "Dr Baker" which rips the soul and replaces it with Wedding Present riffs in a shambolic style.

The real shame is that as a concept the Beta Band surpass most, but the reality of it all is they've yet to release an album to match that early potential of the early EPs. Rather than dipping into the what made the Stone Roses such a vital force. They seem to have plundered the low points of Ian Browns solo catalogue. Deep throbbing bass lines sit tightly along some crisp R&B beats yet the guitars grate and the synths cold and distant while vocals just tunelessly bellow like a football fan in the wrong end. Still over 10 years on and people are still feeling the after-effects of the Roses - its just a pity that no-one seems to capture the magic that made them so special. With Starsailor flying the flag for mainstream guitar music it seems that the Beta Band are flying the flag for the outsiders. The ones that NME will always be a indie rag. The ones that John Peel will always mean more than Jo Whiley and that any degree of success will be seen as a sell-out. When "Hot Shots II" goes into the top 20 this weekend the only question that stumps me is just who the hell is buying them all? Someone has to ask it don't they!!!!

Alex McCann