Hard Fi / Omerta / Boy Kill Boy / Keith - Club Fandango
Night & Day - 22.4.05

Omerta make the sort of music Soft Cell would if they were dragged up through hedges on the streets of Manchester, force fed a diet of chips and beans and made to work on a builders site from the age of 16. "Synchronize Your Smile" is a sensitive chiming ballad reminiscent of Gene, but with the epic scope of McAlmont & Butler. "Everyone's Frozen" is a huge symphonic pop song, which could easily sit by Keane and Embrace on radio playlists while still being much more interesting and dynamic. Elsewhere it's camp disco made by straight men to shuffle to. Some might draw comparisons with the Killers and The Bravery, but that fact it's coming straight out of Mancunia means that it's not so arch and obvious. Omerta could well take Manc electro-guitar pop to pastures new.

What follows are two bands that couldn't be anymore different if they tried. Boy Kill Boy mixes up the Britpop cockney chirp of Blur and the spirit of early Supergrass on tracks such as "Cheap". It an infectious riot, but you can't help but feel Dan Ashcroft would label these Nathan Barley-esque style purveyors The Idiots. On the other hand Keith are the most boring band this side of an Ocean Colour Scene fan convention. They're the sort of band that the phrase "It's all about the music, man" was made for and there's no doubting they could play these songs blindfolded. It's just that Keith offer nothing that a thousand pub bands don't do already.

Hard-Fi delivered their Staines Soul as support to the Bravery in February and here in the confines of Club Fandango with the sweat and intimacy they deliver a spell binding show. Everything about Hard-Fi, from the bands name being taken from a Lee Scratch Perry biography...to the band's frontman Richard Archer being in indie darlings Contempo who tried to bring on the Northern Soul revival a few years back with Mick Jones, is steeped in an all encompassing love of music taking in equal parts punk, reggae and soul music that melts into a glorious pop fusion.

If the Streets are about glamorizing the working class way of life then Hard-Fi tell it like it is with all the gritty reality's. Staines is a town with no future and no prospects and out of this the band have created the most pop perfect moments since the days of Motown and Kent Records. There's a huge debt to Joe Strummer and Mick Jones in the fact that one minute they'll have a straight up punk anthem such as "Middle Eastern Holiday" and the next minute they're reworking The White Stripes "7 Nation Army" into a dub classic. Even "Tide Up Too Tight", which initially sounded like the bands weakest track to date, sounded huge with the crowd singing along to ever na na na na naa. Drawing heavily on the bands mini-album "Stars Of CCTV" (now fetching stupid money on Ebay) the band already have a set in "Cash Machine", "Hard To Beat" and "Gotta Reason" that sounds like the work of a classic band.

It's about time that Britain had a band to believe in that spoke out about their lives. Hard-Fi talk of realities rather than politics and they make euphoric music that makes you want to dance your worries into the ground. For those reasons alone Hard-Fi should be the biggest band in Britain this time next year.

Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com

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Hard-Fi / Omerta - Photo Gallery

Designer Magazine caught the action from sides of the stage when Karen McBride took a backstage tour with Hard-Fi and Omerta on that euphoric first step on the ladder. The week before Omerta had sold out all copies of their ltd edition single "Everyone's Frozen", the week following this gig Hard-Fi would storm straight into the Top 20.

(Omerta relaxing off-stage after a storming sell out gig)


(Hard-Fi onstage and prior to their peformance)