Electric Soft Parade - The Mill (Preston) - 8.11.03

That Tom White is full of beans tonight. Scissor kicking, spinning around and behaving crazily like a true young rock n roller. Alex, the quieter on, who bear a striking resemblance to ex-Eastenders Joe Absolom is a little bit more subdued yet the contrast in personalities works well. With ex-Dodgy drummer Matthew Priest in the line up and the inclusion of a keyboard player ESP have grown in stature and progressed musically. Since I last saw the two brothers from Brighton they've come on bounds and gone are the shoe gazing days of yore. Now we hear a new improved and more confident band.

New album "The American Adventure" gets plenty of exposure with bursts of pop filled guitar rock all bundled together with deliciously delirious melodies and topped off with intelligent lyrics. These work wonders with the singles "Things I've Done Before" and "Lose Yr Frown", but when their experimental side takes centre stage, like on the album's title track, the prog rock snoozeathon marathon guitars begin to feel like i'm watching a Pink Floyd tribute band. Older, but more familiar material is played from their "Holes In The Wall" album which perks up the crowd no end and i'd forgotten how good and immediate those songs were.

Just as you things can't get any better, young Tom White re-appears for the encore crooning away like some Las Vegas lounge lizard on the tender "Existing" with just a touch of sadness as he joins forces with the keyboard player, flirting and preening as if he's a frustrated solo singer stuck in the confines of a band. Don't despair ESP fans because the rest of the band reappear for a couple of more tunes and Tom seems happy enough to share the limelight after his solo spot. This gig was a fine return to form from one of this country's most promising young bands who've shown themselves that a little confidence and a bit of showmanship goes a long way.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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