Heavens – Highbury Garage, London

By paul

Heavens plus Five O’clock Heroes
The Carling Academy Islington,
18th October 2006

Heavens‘ debut tour of the UK culminates here tonight, at the Carling Academy Islington. Being the band’s first proper tour (they haven’t even played live in the States yet), it’s quite a mean feat that they have managed to get themselves a venue of this size. For those unfamiliar with the Academy, it’s recently been modernised and has a capacity of approximately five hundred people. It’s like the Mean Fiddler, minus the lingering stench of vomit and urea.

Despite this, when Five O’clock Heroes take to the stage, there’s barely four rows of people on the venue floor. However, the cross-continental group don’t seem to mind and treat the small audience to a thirty minute set of their own take on the indie rock sound. Coming across as a blend of We are Scientists, Ordinary Boys and *ahem* Razorlight, their songs comprise of bouncy guitar lines and extremely British-sounding vocals. While they are a tight band and their songs manage to sound poppy in the correct sense of the word, the crowd so far seems extremely disinterested, and the queues for the bar begin to grow as people leave the floor. Set closer ‘Run to Her’ is without a doubt the highlight, and by this time people start paying attention, if only because they know the band will be leaving the stage shortly.

Judging by the sheer volume of Alkaline Trio t-shirts and hoodies in the audience tonight, this crowd is here to see one man and one man only. As much as Matt Skiba tries to persuade the world that this is not a solo performance, the crowd doesn’t begin to liven up until the man himself walks on stage, a minute or so later than the rest of his band. It’s a shame really because tonight really owes itself to each band member individually. Opening with fan favourite ‘Another Night’, the band start a near CD-perfect rendition of the majority of Patent Pending‘s songs. Throwing in a cover of the Stone Roses’ ‘I wanna be adored’ seemed to go down a treat, which surprised me as the average age of the crowd would suggest most kids here hadn’t even heard of the band.

Despite not having a guitar to hand. Matt Skiba seems to be truly comfortable in his own skin tonight. You can tell the lack of guitar has enabled the man to concentrate more on improving his vocals, as tonight he delivers a pitch-perfect performance. We even get treated to his Alkaline Trio-esque sound as towards the end of watching you he raises himself an octave and fully throws himself into the song.

There’s no doubt that tonight’s performance was great for the band that Heavens are. In terms of translating their recorded tracks into a live show, they pulled it off spectacularly, pleasing a very enthusiastic crowd. However, ‘Patent Pending‘ was always an album you were either going to love or hate, and if you were never a fan to begin with, tonight’s show would have left you feeling slightly bored. The band played it safe throughout, sticking to the song structures they have recorded, and rarely daring to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone. It’s a shame, because I feel that there could have been so much more done with their material tonight to mix things up a little. However, for what they did do here in this swanky North London club, you can’t fault Heavens, as they played perfectly.

Andy R