Tompaulin - Manchester Roadhouse - 7.11.01

Its punk music but not as we know it!!! Or that's what they'd have us believe. The truth is somewhat closer to unwanted trips to Sunday School except in a perverse way its kind of enjoyable. Its there in those knowing glances and its there in the sense that when they try to rock its more of a whimper. Its got geek rock written all over and yet here we are lapping it all, begging for more, screaming for that encore and leaving disappointed when the equipment breaks down. Never has being so uncool seemed so total and utterly cool.

Tompaulin in the past have been compared to Belle & Sebastian and to be honest it kind of rings true (especially with the faulty equipment) but to be honest the band are steeped further into that Manchester loner culture than their Scottish counterparts. Tompaulin are the sort of band who would love to have danced the night away in the Hacienda but didn't get invited by their peers (or at the very least danced the night away in a dimly lit corner). And they say you have to suffer for your art but you begin to wonder if this artistry is at the expense of their own personal lives.

Nowadays they have the cult following and a clique which understand where they're coming from, so I guess it turned out all right at the end. Despite technical difficulties the band run through a catalogue of Manchester underground classics like "Ballad Of The Bootboys", while "The Boy Hairdresser" and "Partisan" are particularly poignant.  Last time I saw this band they were playing their little hearts out at the ITC Conference about a year ago and I can honestly say they blew away the competition. If anything though tonight's show seemed like a rehearsal in front of close friends and that's where Tompaulin really need to raise their game.

Alex McCann