Mike Atkinson

The Morning Parade, The Money, Atticus Anthem – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Monday September 19

Posted in gigs, Nottingham Post, Rescue Rooms by Mike A on September 20, 2011

Right now, Nottingham’s Atticus Anthem are having a bit of a moment. Last Saturday, they appeared in session on BBC Radio Nottingham’s The Beat: always a prestigious moment for a local band, and a clear sign that they’re on the right track. And with their debut EP (Slow Down Gracetown) due out in three weeks’ time, they took to the Rescue Rooms stage as if it were their natural habitat.

Boosted by the support of friends and family in the audience, and with singer Bjorn Franklin’s birthday also to be celebrated, the stars aligned perfectly for the band, who delivered a skilful, well-crafted and compelling set. You could tell that the players had rehearsed long and hard for this show, and there was a pleasing precision to their performance, which was lifted by Johnny Marchetta’s chiming, echo-laden guitar sound and a spot-on sound mix.

As a front man, Bjorn Franklin combined soft-spoken courtesy with throaty passion.  His vocals commanded full attention during the quieter passages, before soaring high and hefty for the band’s many anthemic, festival-friendly choruses.

Having honed their craft to such a high standard, Atticus Anthem now need to concentrate their energies on developing a more unique, characterful sound, that shifts them away from the classic U2/Kings Of Leon template. If they can tear up the rule book and inject a little more colour and risk, there’s no reason why they couldn’t one day return to the Rescue Rooms as headliners.

As for fellow Nottingham rockers The Money, fortune has been smiling on them over the past few months. After winning the Future Sound of Nottingham contest at Rock City in July, they opened the main stage at the Splendour festival in fine style, looking for all the world like seasoned regulars. With that victory under their belts, wowing the Rescue Rooms should have been well within their grasp – but there was no escaping the realisation that last night’s show was far from their best.

Despite being crystal clear for the opening act and the headliners, something went markedly awry for The Money’s sound mix, which was sludgy, indistinct and over-loud. Perhaps thrown by this, they came close to fluffing the intro to their first (and best) song, Looks Like Rain – and from that point on, they never fully recovered their usual cracking form. Things more or less came together for the final song of their short set, but it still wasn’t enough to galvanise the muted crowd.

The night ended with a capable, likeable but ultimately unremarkable set from headliners The Morning Parade, a five-piece band from Essex who had played The Bodega earlier this year. While their sound certainly scaled up to the demands of the Rescue Rooms stage, they hadn’t quite accrued sufficient audience numbers to justify the larger space.

This being the first night of their tour, the lads were eager to debut many new songs from their forthcoming album, but the set didn’t fully take flight until A&E, the single which caused all the excitement the last time round. The band work best on songs like this, where they can maximise their energy levels and deliver at full tilt. But on the more reflective pieces, perhaps a lack of familiarity from both sides of the stage dampened some of their effect.

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