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Live Review: Underdogs, The Maheno Wreck, Belleville - The Good Ship, Kilburn - 27.02.10

It's very rare these days to go along to a gig with no expectations and come away having heard some amazing music. Whether it's the fact that music is so saturated with copy cats these days or whether I am just completely jaded, this gig was a great surprise. Expecting a lineup of predictable Indie music, it was refreshing to see all the acts had differing styles.

The first really exciting performance of the night came from Kent five-piece, Belleville. The band play a refreshing blend of alternative music, that has the ability to be both catchy yet also incredibly intricate. The addition of keys and a violin to the standard bass-drums- guitar mix, as well as frontwoman Emily Yates' passionate vocals, made for a captivating performance. From the anthem-like opener of 'The Storm', through to the epic closer 'Stand' it was clear that every element of the band was polished and worked together to create a unique sound. The guitar and violin worked in beautiful tandem to create an epic soundscape, whilst Yates' vocals brought melody and enticed the listener into wanting more. It is hard to believe that for a band this professional, this was their first London gig.

Arriving to little fanfare, The Maheno Wreck, played their own unique brand of alt rock in the vein of Counting Crows and Matthew Good Band. Frontman, Dominic Marshall has a confident, but not showy, stage presence and an awesome voice that in places sounds like Sting. The set's highlights were the hook-laden 'Heart of Darkness' and the storming closer 'No Way Out'. It is on this track that Marshall's voice perfectly complements the guitar play of Warren and Platt. The Maheno Wreck represent a fresh and vibrant face for the alt rock genre and are deserving of far more critical acclaim than their humble attitude would suggest.

Underdogs from Preston are a band with a buzz. This headline show comes off the back of some very high profile support slots last year, that suggest the band are on the up with the momentum of a rocket. It is unsurprising then that there are a number of people in the audience singing along to every word that drops from the lips of Philip Moss. Playing music that is strongly influenced by The Killers, there is no question that the band will be big. Yet tonight, it is only the energetic performance of Moss that saves the band from being ordinary. Moving around the restrictive stage like he has trousers full of fire ants and reaching out to each individual member of the audience, it is clear to see why his is the only face clear on the band's posters. Underdogs are worth keeping an eye on as they obviously have promotion behind them and despite the fact that any reasonably confident musician could produce the tunes they play, you would be hard pushed to find another frontman as charismatic as Moss.

There is no question that in the short term Underdogs will have more commercial success, it is Belleville and The Maheno Wreck that might just provide the massive lightning bolt needed to revitalise a bland and saturated music industry.

Daniel Issitt

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