Art Brut come onto the stage to much applause, their die-hard fans and ‘franchises’ (other bands playing covers of their songs) are what pretty much every up-and-coming band would die for. Introducing a new guitar player, the band seem a little ragged at the start (well, more than usual) with the trademark, “Are we ready Art Brut?” quote from lead singer Eddie Argos less effective than usual due to a slower response from the band.
However, teething problems from the new guitarist aside, the gig was electric. Speaking to some of the fans before the show, many were concerned that Art Brut’s show would not make as much sense on a larger stage. Indeed, this is a fear that I privately held too, but the band proved me wrong. Argos’ inimitable style was effortlessly transferable to this larger audience, in fact even more so, as the hipsters at the back are in stitches whilst he delivers hilarious monologue after monologue in between songs. Meanwhile those at the front are moshing like there is no tomorrow and as if Kurt Cobain had never taken his own life.
Delivering the set with passion and gusto, Art Brut played a strong show, with songs about masturbation, erectile dysfunction, moving to LA, the NME, Topshop, and childhood sweethearts among others. In between songs, Eddie Argos mocked his new guitar player, the rest of the band and Pete Doherty. This was truly momentous stuff with the music gloriously shambolic and always pleasing to the ear.
Before and after the gig, Eddie Argos was available to the crowd, mingling with fans, he was humble when I approached him, seemingly taking to heart my congratulations and appreciative of my remarks. But the fear that Art Brut won’t be able to continue to do this on a larger stage remains. How much longer will Art Brut be able to interact with their fans in this way whilst playing to larger crowds? It seems almost certain that their career will take them to even bigger venues and to bigger crowds at festivals next year. As the crowds get bigger, the interaction becomes harder and Art Brut will be in danger of losing much of their kitsch-appeal and romanticism. From a personal point of view, I hope that they remain a smallish cult band for just that little bit longer.
One criticism that I do have is that the band were on for a relatively short time – but after all their CD clocks in at 32 minutes or so – perhaps tailored to the average teenage attention span? Other than that Art Brut delivered an almost perfect set. If you have the chance to see them soon do, before they become too popular and your view is obstructed by people discussing the poor state of financial service call-centres (well you know what I mean).