Surferosa / The Departure - Manchester Academy 3 - 28.5.04

As we walk up the stairs to the Academy 3, a default person grabs me, stares me straight in the eye and declares tonight's headline band The Killers to be "the best band ever". He follows it up with the line "they're gonna be bigger than Keane and The White Stripes". Sadly, this is indicative of most of the male of the species over 30, the fact they'll so readily swallow the hype on the latest band of the month without question. That fact that The Killers are potentially the worst band to grace our ears since the Libertines is proved beyond reasonable doubt when we walk out 4 songs into their set uttering the words "where on earth do they find these bands".

Thankfully The Departure are the dogs bollocks. Think Franz Ferdinand gone pure pop, full of the bounciest 80s bass lines and choruses that send endorphins to the brain through sheer unadulterated pleasure. The Departure seem to have come fully formed out of nowhere and they could just be the greatest band we've seen since the Romo days. Each song competes with the previous song creating a spiralling effect where E'd up punters are set for a come down as soon as the dull tones of the studentville stereo comes on when they leave the stage. In a world where pop bands are vying for something a bit alternative, it now seems the alternative world is reaching for something shiny called pop.

Surferosa may take their name from a Pixies album, but that's as far as the connection goes. More akin to the Teen C Revolution of the mid 90s with Bis and Helen Love, the band play trash pop. Hailing from Norway, the band are part of the Scandinavian invasion just waiting to happen with the likes of The Ark, Bobby and The Mo. "Lucky Lipstick" is the bands breakthrough UK single, but "Shanghai My Heart" is an album literally brimming with singles and tonight's set simply dips in of its own accord. Frontwoman Mariann, a punked up doppelganger of Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding, bounds across the stage as a human pogo. Relentless in her pursuit for fun and never letting the energy level drop. By the end of the set including "Chinese Moon", "Bim Bam Boom" and "Saturday Night" the venue is drenched in sweat and in the hands of Surferosa completely.

And the Killers you ask? The less we say about them the better. In the words of Avid Merrion "They are shit!!!!"

Alex McCann

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