LIVE: Blitz Kids / The People The Poet / Villains @ Barfly, London [20/01/14]

By Ben Tipple

Delving headfirst into 2014, Nantwich based four piece Blitz Kids not only release their second full-length – ‘The Good Youth’ – tonight, but have also successfully sold out London’s intimate yet renowned Barfly. The show marks both the beginning and the end of two exciting chapters in the band’s turbulent career – putting band departures and lack of predicated success to rest, and focussing on the doors that the new record may open.

As the more tangible venue doors open almost a full hour before Villains take to the stage, they are greeted by a comparably busy room. The early arrivals are privy to an exuberant introduction, as the Essex based upstarts – formed from the ashes of Never Means Maybe – deliver a hearty mixture of melodic rock and echoing riffs. Their set is filled with catchy melodies, each of which could easily standout as their breakthrough single. Amplified by their engaging on-stage personalities, Villains are already overflowing with promise.

Deviating slightly from the headliner’s sound, Welsh folk-blues outfit The People The Poet manage to maintain a high level of energy despite their influences. Showcasing tracks from their recently released ‘The Narrator’, frontman Leon Stanford’s uniquely gruff vocals form the focal point of their sound. Tracks such as ‘People’, the ode to fatherhood ‘Stabilisers’, and the immediately infectious ‘Take’ prove them to be a more than suitable band to sit between two melodic rockers.

With ‘The Good Youth’ hoping to complete what ‘Vagrants & Vagabonds’ promised to do, Blitz Kids have certainly improved their stage presence. Taking a leaf from recent tour mates Mallory Knox, the band take to the stage accompanied by an entrance theme as frontman Joe James takes to his illuminated microphone stand.

The spectacle is largely left to James as he pouts and poses his way through the entirety of the new album, and two tracks from 2012’s ‘Never Die’ EP. Met by a wall of high pitched screams, the demographic to which the band appeal is immediately evident. Intentionally or not, James reacts suitably to their new found boy band status.

There is little fault within the delivery of the instrumentation, with the new tracks sounding as predominantly light-hearted as they do on record. Predictably, the weaker songs on the album – ‘Pinnacle’ or ‘Keep Swinging’ – fail to deliver to the extent of ‘All I Want Is Everything’, ‘Run For Cover’ or ‘Title Fight’. ‘Long Road’, the band’s seemingly autobiographical ballad, is equally lost in delivery, largely due to James’ weaker and sometimes nasal vocal performance.

There have always been murky waters between pop and alternative music – hell, McFly and Busted weren’t the first boy bands to pick up instruments. Blitz Kids have found themselves comfortably swimming in-between, both in terms of their new electronic and hook driven sound, and their subsequent fan base. What they deliver, they deliver well, and there is unquestionably improvement in their performance – yet as the screams fade it’s all felt a little one dimensional.