Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cambridge Review

Review of the Cambridge show from photographer, Valerio Berdin.

The View, four Scottish guys from Dundee, are responsible for my rare moment of optimism, so carry on reading, you know it doesn’t happen often.

Cambridge gig ticked all the boxes. A hour of pure, sparkling third millennium brit-pop.

I have seen, photographed, met the View in the past several times. I had never been that impressed, to me they always sounded just another band filling the void left by the Libertines‘ split. The differences, a strong Scottish accent and Gibsons replacing Telecasters, were not enough.

The View first album, Hats Off to the Buskers, was a UK number one and Mercury nominated, people loved it but I was not one of them.

A couple of years spent touring and recording, festivals, cocaine penalties, and travelling the world have been important. The View still look (and are) very young but have clearly matured.

Tonight gig started a bit late. Apparently some problems with the set-list. 15 minutes waiting and the roadies replace the first sheets with a different list. Having photographed both, I can tell the 16 songs are roughly the same and in a very similar order.

I want to read it as a special care the View put on to the music they are about to playing.

As soon as the band walks on stage, it rains beer for a good minute. Bent on my cameras, I am soaked. The View, their heads covered with hoodies, were expecting such a sticky reception; my lenses didn’t look as happy.

A wall of guitars, heavy drumming, steady bass and steer energy is the response to the beers and set the field over which the songs develop. This is not going to be a light meal. There is matter and it matters.
A keyboards, to my fear, sits on the back but but it turns out to be complementary to their new sounds that remains heavily guitar-driven.

What impressed me was the musicality of the (new and old) songs. A melodic taste spiced up by riffs, short solos, quick change of tempos. The fast beat stops then starts again. Acoustic and electric guitars merge within the same song without suffocating each other.

Now and then I perceive the risk of falling into Arctic Monkeys zone, but with such a full charge of positive energy, desire of playing and chemistry with the audience (who is there for them and not as a surrogate for someone else) the risk isn’t that dangerous. Actually it is positive.

The View know that the Libertines’ lemon does not have any juice left so they are squeezing few drops from someone else’s fruit to dress their own salad. (I must be still thinking at my dinner).

The references from the past are frequent, these kids have studied the history lesson.

Realisation has a memory of a ska/reggae beat that recall the Clash and memories of early Brixton punks.

Comin’ down, who opens the debut, tonight has such a heavy guitar sound to sit comfortably at the crossroad where the QOTSA met the Stooges, including Kyle Falconer swallowing the mic in Iggy style. Born on my same day, seventeen years later (!!), the View singer is as young as it looks; as young as rock’n'roll will always be.

Among the rock riffs there is space for a new ballad, Covers. Luckily the live version doesn’t host Paolo Nutini cameo and sounds better. It catches my attention for the brilliant opening:

“I’ll pull my covers off my lady in the night,
To see the cold reaction when she realises actions I’ve taken,
To start conversation.”

The band members interchange instruments and roles smartly. They are very attent to the fans response and quickly keep quiet or accompain the audience chants. Many songs are ready for summer festivals. If in a small venue and with just few weeks to learn the choruses they generate massive sing-along I can imagine what is going to happen this summer.

Give Back The Sun is the perfect answer to this icy winter, its steady guitar riff delivers slices of warmth and almost takes the drum role.

The venue lights up to daylight for the early hit Superstar Tradesman. The entire crowd is back singing along with them but the closure is left to a new song, the second single, Shock Horror.
Another sign of confidence from a band ready for glory.

There is no encore and no need for it. As the Manic Street Preachers taught, there is no way to comeback on stage after a powerful performance to sing a couple of songs and retain the same energy. Better leave it.

I drive back home starving but amazed by the concert. The View today are a different band from those four guys aping the Libertines two years ago.

They are a solid rock band. With the Arctic Monkeys they join the exclusive club of Brit bands with a good second album. They have very good songs, a powerful line-up and they can only get better as long as playing live will be synonymous of having fun.

Curious to know what the crowd was singing along (I am difficult to catch Scottish accent, you know!) back home I google for the Superstar Tradesman lyrics to discover an early statement that they are quite clearly honouring.

“I don’t want money I want a thing called happiness
I don’t want cash you know I’d quite like memories
To keep us on track let’s never look back”

The View look very happy indeed, are far from being interested to money and clearly aren’t looking back. Their confindence is a boost on my confidence that “rock’n'roll will never die”.

Check them out on [myspace] and the exhaustive [website] and try to catch them live.


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