The Automatic / Alterkicks / Mumm-Ra - Manchester Academy 1 - 14.10.2006

Opening for the likes of The Departure and Leaves, has allowed the Liverpool based Alterkicks to mould their live sound to reflect The Doors appreciating tunefulness they display on record. Something that is especially prevalent for the first 10 minutes in the vocals of Martin Stilwell. The rhythm and carefree nature of the band is encapsulated in the mating of the sounds of Gomez and The Bluetones via ‘Everything I Taught You’, displaying a maturity that seeps through in the well contained singing style. Forthcoming single ‘On Holiday’ (out 14/11/06 on Fierce Panda), is a moment of spirited pop craftsmanship and ensures that a lasting impression is left and that a favourable reception is received.

For a line up that includes a four pronged guitar attack and a keyboardist, Bexhill On Sea’s Mumm-Ra manages to surprise by delivering quite a melodious feel, akin to an early Snow Patrol, with an element of The Rakes style post-mod spicing things up a little. However, it is not until the punk punch of ‘Zombie’ that you can appreciate the variety and force of the four guitars, otherwise there is an element of redundancy. The jangling single ‘Out Of The Question’, stirs some enthusiasm and demonstrates strong cohesion, but from tonight’s set you just wonder if it is going to be enough to help them fit into an already bloated section of the music industry?

The rhythmic and throaty vocal utilising Welshmen, The Automatic attempt to scatter the tag of one hit wannabes that is being branded upon them by doubters. They are helped in this plight by a noisy and appreciative, but a tad motion shy crowd, who appreciate the early use of the defiant rock-around of ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’. This promotes the keyboard element and instils some early energy to shake off any doubts the band and onlookers may have about their ability to pull off a gig of this magnitude. A grinding non-album track ‘Time = Money’, bears out a lack of real depth and creates a slight lull, something that will have doubters grinning like Cherie Blair. However, their cause to bring a halt to The Automatic soon looks as hopeful as Tony Blair’s, when the brazen chorus of ‘Team Drama’ epitomises the vibrancy and belief of lead singer, Rob.

The moment many have been itching for arrives and ‘Monster’ sees the place erupt into an enthusiastic pit of energy and rhythm. It seems a smart move not to save this until the end and they use the energy this has created to pull off a bold, raw and punchy rendition of Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’. It is apparent that the key to The Automatic’s future lies in their ability to build upon the bemused, tempo-raising  punk flirtation of ‘You Shout You Shout You Shout‘, as the weighty drum march and bounding guitars create an energy rush that carries through to the vocals. Previous set opener, ‘Recover’ reacts well to its reshuffle and provides the finale, ending matters in a pleasing crowd involving manner. ‘Monster’ has indubitably raised The Automatics profile to a lofty level, but there is just belief and depth in the hour long set to suggest that they can stay there.

David Adair
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest

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