Electric Soft Parade – Liverpool Royal Court – 17/02/02

Where do you put a band like Brighton's Electric Soft Parade?  It's a difficult one…because whilst they can rock like true behemoths on ketamine, (cross-reference here keyboard player Steve jumping on his Korg at the end of the gig), they can produce the quiet moments that make your bones shudder and your hair feel like electricity.  All in the same song.

Which, for Alex and Tom White – the creative nucleus of the band – is all the more an achievement considering that singer Alex is 19 whilst drummer and main songwriter Tom is just 17.

With opener ‘Start Again’, with its stop-start, ungainly rhythms, through to fantastic current single ‘Silent To The Dark’, ESP live are not only incredible but also original – a compliment that does not fit well on a whole bunch of their contemporaries.  Fitting somewhere nicely between Primal Scream and Teenage Fanclub (ok, maybe you have to hear them) they produce central hooks that make you swoon, whilst also rescuing the vocoder from Cher and the Bad Polished Pop Brigade – something that can only be a good thing.

On bad thing though – if you ever get the chance to see them, go to the band, go to the bar when Tom gets from behind his drumkit and starts to sing.  If you can't out-sing Ian Brown, who trod the same stage later the same evening – then you really shouldn't sing at all.

However, it is a mark of this band's deserved credit that in their short careers so far they have supported both the Stone Roses frontman and The Who.  Bring it on for the new psychedelic retro pioneers.

Collen Chandler

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