As Getintothis’ Gary Lambert steps into Studio 2 on a cold winter’s night, he discovers seasonal warmth in The Magic Gang.
When most of the Liverpool music scene was 100 yards down the road paying homage to one of the finest venues we have known before its departure from our world, those who were at Studio 2 were looking to the future. Studio 2 has over the last six months become a staging post for indie hopefuls from across the country to try their hand at performing in front of a Liverpool audience. This particular evening saw The Magic Gang come up from Brighton to do their stuff with support coming from stars of the recent DIY tour, Inheaven, and Merseyside upstarts The Bohos.
It was The Bohos who started things off and filled out the crowd numbers with a healthy group of friends and acquaintances to give them a cheer and some instant confidence. We were quite surprised with the Bohos sound as to our ears it was reminiscent of The Stone Roses in their earliest days. With a singer who would not have passed Boot Camp on The X Factor yet sounded perfect in the mix with the guitars, bass and drums rather than like a karaoke track.
The first thing that hit us about Inheaven was they look like a band should. There was no geek chic or fancy dress on show, but rather a band looking effortlessly cool. The first section of the set was filled with smooth, highly accessible rock music which was good, but somewhat lacking as though the band were playing to ensure maximum approval.
However things took a turn for the better at new release Bitter Town. All of a sudden those smooth edges to the guitar playing disappeared and the band looked emboldened with enthusiasm and confidence. This power continued to the end of the set. Closer New Generation made the whole world seem within the reach of Inheaven as their power chords and perfect choruses took us to fever pitch (under the surface obviously – the reviewer’s façade should not fade).
Overall Inheaven seem to be a band who are trapped between the first half of their set when they played music that they think people will want to hear; and the second half of their set when they played music they want to hear and to play. We really hope they stay true to themselves as the latter part of the set was punch-the-air good rather than decent-Tuesday-night good.
The Magic Gang are a sharp four-piece with a style more suited to America’s west coast rather than England’s south coast with harmonies and multi-layered singing provided by three vocalists sharing responsibilities. With such a strong pop element to their music, it strangely felt like we already knew the songs despite this being the first time we had ever seen or heard the band.
While the front three of the band took the attention from the fanboys and fangirls in front, it was noticeable that the drummer had garnered a lot of attention from a certain band who had popped out of Parr Street Studios to see what was on offer. With a complete lack of showmanship, disregard for his surroundings and tighter than a duck’s arse, it was a pleasure to move to the side of the stage and just watch him work for a couple of tracks.
While it is a trademark of The Magic Gang to swap lead vocalist, bassist Gus Taylor was the weaker of the three and it felt like a token gesture to include a song with him leading when the overall sound of the band did not suit his darker tones. With Kristian Smith and Jack Kaye leading the way and gaining the excited fans’ approval every song, there is no need to shoehorn a ill-fitting track in there. Finishing on debut single No Fun was anything but “no fun” as the teenagers at the front jumped around with abandon. With a sun-drenched style and a song structure which felt almost conversational such was the call and response tactic so intrinsic, a winter’s night in Studio 2 was perhaps not the finest showcase for The Magic Gang, but they were entertaining and worthy of a revisit.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam.