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ELECTRIC SIX LIVE IN BIRMINGHAM

ELECTRIC SIX LIVE IN BIRMINGHAM – WHAT HAPPENED?

On Wednesday night Birmingham was host to Electric Six at the O2 Academy who are celebrating 20 years of their album “Fire” which provided the world with their 2 most famous songs “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar” (Both of which had fantastic videos). I would class myself as more of a casual fan, I don’t know much stuff by them but I saw this as an opportunity to see what they were all about as a band and what kind of performance they give.

Unfortunately, due to what seems like constant roadworks in and around Birmingham, I arrived as the local support band Alice Lily hit their final chord, and from the crowds reception I couldn’t help but wonder what I missed so once I got home I had a quick look for them and I must say I was both impressed and a little gutted that I missed their set. I shall have to try to get down to Birmingham when they play next but you should check them out on Spotify, and go to YouTube to watch their video for their track “Echoes”.

It seemed like for me the night wasn’t going to be plain sailing as there had been some kind of mix up in regards to the photo pass so I was unable to take any pictures of the next support act (and I have to say a HUGE thank you to the Pit Security Guard who pulled it out of the bag by helping get the pass sorted just in time for Electric Six). The band are called US. A brave choice when it comes to a band name. With such a name that is such a widely used word it took me a while after the gig to find their socials, but nothing was going to stop me from doing so because I have to admit they were the first band that made me think “holy shit!”

The pure energy that this 5 piece brought to the stage was immense. An aggressive raw sound with added harmonica. Hints of early Arctic Monkeys mixed with a classic Blues/Rock, they seemed to draw inspiration from a large variety of sources, at times fast paced and in your face but then a bit slower and chilled, fantastic dynamics and it was clear that they love being up there and that always comes through in a bands performance. I think one of the reasons I really enjoyed watching them is I got the same kind of vibe from the show as I did when I saw The Presidents Of The United States Of America. Fun, Loud and Rocking. The crowd loved them too. Highly Recommended.

After a short stage reshuffle it was time for Electric Six to join the room. We were informed that tonight there was to be 2 sets. Despite this being billed as a celebration of 20 years of “Fire” the first set consisted of some “Fan Faves” and songs from their new album “Turquoise”. With not being a die hard fan myself I was a bit taken aback with how this first set was performed in such a serious kind of way (for want of a better phrase). As is the Electric Six way if you really listen to the lyrics they are soaked with humour for the most part, but it was delivered in such a way that Dick Valentine was channeling his inner crooner, and often with his in between song dialogues his inner preacher, at one time telling us that he was going to come out at the end of the show to meet people and, as he had links to King Charles (Who he called Chuckles) he was going to get each and every person he met that night to tell a story of the people into his bag and was going to get Chuckles to put his head in the bag and listen to the stories of the people.

And what a mix of people it was in the crowd tonight. Both young and old, rockers, metal heads, grandads, it was a real diverse crowd. I do have to say though, one thing I have noticed since starting my gig photography/review journey is that more often than not these days is the people at the barrier seem to be getting less and less active, some standing there straight faced and not getting into the spirit of things, tonight was no exception as there seemed to be a large proportion of them at the barrier tonight. The room was absolutely heaving too. It didn’t take long to warm up once you were inside, at times even gasping to get out into the cold to have a breather.

Musically the band are flawless. The light show, although tough for me as a photographer (most of the Birmingham based smaller O2 venues are) was fantastic for the disco/rock/punk/comedy fusion of Electric Six and the sound wasn’t too bad either. Dick was giving his performance like he was singing deep from the heart whilst the band were showcasing their talents. A decent first half and a taste of the Electric Six that I had not seen nor heard before.

After another brief recess it was back onto the stage once again but with a slight change, Dicks hair was no longer flopping around the place, it was now slicked back, like he was getting into character for the second half. and what was to follow in this second half was the entirety of “Fire” in order of the album, and things on stage were more like I expected an Electric Six gig to be, more fun and activity coming from Dick.

Usually, when a band does 2 sets in a night with an intermission there are no support acts, but as there were 2 this show went on for a little longer than usual. All of the songs got big pops, but “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar” unsurprisingly got the biggest. By this time it was already past 10.30pm, and I don’t know if it was because the casual fans had heard the 2 biggest hits they know the band for or because or because this show was going on for longer than usual but after “Gay Bar” i’d say at least 20% of the crowd left the show. Which ever it was it gave everyone else inside who were determined to stick around for the whole show a bit more breathing room to enjoy it and more room to dance. I do think at times that the O2 oversell shows, there has been a few times I have been and there is barely enough room to breathe let alone stand.

For a Wednesday night that started out for me with the issues of roadworks and pass problems it ended quite nicely. An enjoyable set from a band that I will make a point of going to see next time they are back in Birmingham (or even the UK). Electric Six are a fantastic live band and I will make sure to brush up on their expansive back catalogue before going to see them again as it seems I have been missing out for a long time.

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