Electric Soft Parade / Hazey Janes - 53 Degrees Preston - 3.10.06

Why has the population of Preston abandoned Electric Soft Parade? Last time they played here three years ago the indie kids came out in droves. Tonight there's barely sixty people here in a venue that can comfortably hold at least 500. I realize the band have been quiet recently but this is still a severely poor turn out.

Before ESP we're in for an unexpected treat. The support band was not advertised on the flyers or in the press so imagine my surprise when the Hazey Janes appear on stage. The four piece from Dundee (home of the View) have the guitar grace of Teenage Fanclub and the boy girl harmonies in the tradition of the Magic Numbers. Lead singer Andrew Mitchell could almost be Tim Burgess's younger brother as the resemblance to the Charlatans frontman is uncanny. The Hazey Janes summery pop is enough to help us blow off the cobwebs of the Winter ahead with "Moan'in Face" and "Five In The Sky" the highlights of a swift thirty minute set.

Electric Soft Parade still comprise of two brothers, one rakish and fair haired on keyboards and the other darker playing guitar with enthusiasm. Both siblings sing, instinctually know each others strengths, work superbly together and have a chemistry which is naturally in tune with the other musicians which now include ex-Dodgy drummer Matthew Priest. With a new album due out early next year ESP are keen to showcase new material straight away launching immediately into instrumental "Friday Before Christmas". "Secrets", another new song, is slow and languid, a real change of direction which unfortunately sounds too much like the refrain of Led Zep's "Stairway To Heaven" to truly stand out as an original composition.

Andrew Mitchell from the Hazey Janes pops up to play keyboards on the amazing "Lose yr Frown" which is bashed out so frenetically that the guitarist loses a string in the process. The audience may be few in numbers, but they make sure the band appreciate their applause, cheering and suggestions for songs. The band chat back to the audience in a relaxed matter making it a unique intimate experience for everyone concerned tonight.

With album tracks, songs off their latest EP and unreleased material, Electric Soft Parade have an ace up their sleeve to get everyone dancing at the end with their most popular single to date "Empty At The End" which reminds us why we still need the band even as their fanbase (on this occassion) is dwindling.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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