LIVE REVIEW: Last Shadow Puppets @ Middlesbrough Town Hall (25.3.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Zackery Michael

Whilst taking time away from his day job, Alex Turner has reunited with NME golden boy Miles Kane to record a second The Last Shadow Puppets album. Tonight before heading off to tour Europe it’s Middlesbrough’s chance to see for themselves what’s on offer. They arrive onstage armed with egos and attitude; their ideas of grandeur and extravagant orchestration for all to behold. For those not in on the clique, think Arthur Lee and Love grooving to a John Barry soundtrack. Strings and production stamped with an Abbey Road postmark, it’s ambitious stuff, but perhaps more Timothy Dalton than Sean Connery in danger and appeal.

Writing this review with an open mind, Turner deserves credit as one of the last decade’s most successful songwriters and Miles Kane for being …..err Miles Kane. Seated in the balcony I witness a pretty much static audience treated with almost contempt at times by Turner with his sidekick attempting an uninspired scouse Paul Weller impersonation. Sure they are talented boys, you don’t get to their level without it, and credit should be given for their musical ambition. The retro agenda they have set themselves has certainly been accomplished, but it’s all just a little self-indulgent for my liking.

Warmly welcomed they appear dressed like a Top of the Pops 2 fancy dress party, Kane representing the 60s and Turner the 80s respectively. Kicking off early with fan favourite The Age Of Understatement, it sets an early frenetic pace but misleading tone to the evening. Recent release Bad Habits pokes its finger in your face, getting up close and personal. Invading your space with its poor man’s Spaghetti Western undertone and Kane’s spikey vocal attack. Musically it appears they have little interest in taking things into the future with a cocksure Kane and half-arsed Turner seemingly happy to entertain themselves. If there was ever a more obvious example of style over substance then tonight is just that; struggling to engage I find myself annoyed rather than entertained. Don’t take my word for it though. it’s music that will be listened to by many, it’s just the take it or leave it attitude isn’t particularly warming to those looking a little further than face value.

Supported by Jeff Wooten of Beady Eye and Gorillaz fame it’s all a little too cool for school for me; although being fair to Kane he at least acknowledges an audience is there unlike his bandmate. Credit where credit’s due, it’s an accomplished performance of crafted songs that sit perhaps more easily as soundtracks rather than foot tappers.

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