Venue: The Pitz, Milton Keynes
The Pitz seems far fuller tonight than it should be and everyone here appears to be at least three inches taller than the usual crowd! What’s got all these 9-5ers back out on a windswept midweek evening? Something decidedly retro is about to happen!
Icelandic rockers Sign power through their set like a spitfire engine gunning on all cylinders. Down-tuned twin guitars and a rumbling bass surge through songs as if their players have just had nitrous oxide injected straight to the vein, while the drummer pummels the skins with complex polyrhythms that threaten to rattle apart at the seams at any moment. But make no mistake, these guys are tight: their sound solid and impenetrable. Chunky, metallic riffs dominate Sign’s hard rock sound, punctured occasionally with tight, stark guitar solos from frontman Zolberg who yelps and sneers like Axl Rose and Bjork all at once, and yet sounds as fresh as the smell of napalm on a burning jungle. Back home in Iceland, Sign are something of an Icelandic Silverchair, musical protégées who’ve been making records since the beginning of the decade, and they desperately want to be recognised here. At one point, in broken English that sounds vaguely Californian, Zolberg begs us to sing along if we happen to know the words to last years single “Little Bit”. We don’t, but the song they play is fantastic and we wish we did. If “Little Bit” and title track “Thank God for Silence” from last year's album are anything to go by, Sign are a band we should all be into.
If any band has really earned their dues it’s the Wildhearts! Since the early 90’s these guys have been spreading the rock ‘n’ roll love everywhere they can. Mainstream success may have eclipsed them, despite putting out a fist full of extraordinarily catchy rockers over the years, but their hard work has earned them a dedicated following that turn out to every gig and sing along to every song. The Wildhearts sound like nineties post-grunge, they’re Foo Fighters, The Offspring and Green Day all at once. “The Revolution Will Be Televised” from last month's self titled album sounds like the band’s response to Green Day’s “American Idiot.” But they’re also a band stuck out of time. They sound like a product of the 70’s; feel good hard rock ’n’ roll played by kids who grew up listening to the Beach Boys. Yes, they’re also Cheap Trick. The Wildhearts hail from a region of Newcastle-upon-Tyne where the sun forever shines, and you can feel the love oozing from the stage. All four band members wear beaming smiles throughout as they play through ridiculously catchy pop, punk, rock and metal anthems, frequently playing four or five songs tightly back to back with barely a pause for a cheer. And tonight everyone in the audience is feeling the love too; tonight the Wildhearts are heroes!