Mike TV – Camden Underworld

By paul

Mike TV
Saturday 31 January 2009
Underworld, Camden
Support: The Fight + Over And Out + Showdown City + Mr Kamikaze

It still feels like only yesterday Pickled Dick was playing the UK toilet circuit. Technically it was April 5 2008, but really it was only yesterday. Sure it?s a new name but it?s the same band, the same music, a few new songs, and the same jokes (pretty much anyway). Tonight it feels like very little has changed. And that, my friend, is a good thing.

Mr Kamikaze does not feel like an opening band. Not in the slightest. It turns out the Hampshire quartet has been doing this for ages but this is the first ?big? London show. It?s a shame then that so few are here to see 30 hasty minutes of synth-laced pop goodness so absorbing it cries out to be seen over and over. ?Astronaut? sounds like Bowie after too many sherbert dips, well, if he was obsessed with animals and robots that is. Fantastic offering that will hopefully move up the billing sooner rather than later. (4/5)

A slew of technical difficulties hinder the opening moments of Wolverhampton?s Showdown City but once these are out of the way momentum starts to gather. The quintet improves with each visit to the capital and tonight?s bill seems made for the band?s catchy choruses and high-octane pop-punk performance. Think Paramore but with a little more grit and a lot more Midlands. (3/5)

Punktastic Recordings alumni Over And Out puts on a quintessential set of summertime punk-pop that warms the cockles on a horribly winterish evening. There are technical difficulties here as well, but the Brighton quartet sees them off in time to impress with some new material. ?Here She Goes? is still the stand out though. (3/5)

The Fight initially appears to have some issues with the onstage sound and subsequently starts rather lankly. In fact there seems to be little life in the band at all tonight, which is only compounded by the energy-filled earlier performances. You can?t help but feel that this is a far different band to the one that held the world in its collective palm in 2003. There?s a fair whack of newer material tonight, one song of which has a definite ska feel to it, and hints that there is life in the band yet. However, it?s going to take a bigger performance than this to extract it. A special mention for Nick Reynolds of Mike TV for expertly filling in on drums. (2/5)

So a little over nine months on and here we have Mike TV headlining the Underworld for the first time under the new moniker. In those nine months the band hasn?t given birth (unless Mr Kamikaze is considered the bastard son of) but it has improved in leaps and bounds to the extent that maybe this is a rebirth. Or maybe not.

Don?t be fooled, this is still Pickled Dick but tonight?s performances, like many during the second half of last year, seems a lot more tighter and the song writing much stronger. All of the staples are on offer: fast, bouncy pop-punk (the UK?s answer to Green Day, perhaps) mixed in with comedy interludes and pearly white smiles. There?s even a Jhon Cosgrove impersonator complete with vulgar sloganed t-shirt (quite a disturbing prospect really).

Forthcoming single ?Lie Low, Lilo? proves an example of the strength of material from last year?s self-titled album, and as you look around it?s safe to say as many lips are mouthing along as there are to the likes of the more established ?Ship Ahoy? and ?Salamander?. The newer material, simply put, is an improvement and well worth picking up.

The big thing tonight though is the crowd. The band manages to entice involvement from a pack that has been noticeably uninvolved all evening, and whilst the audience is certainly not substantial in number, it goes a long way to displaying the pulling power Mike TV now has. This band deserves to be headlining the Underworld and it deserves a few more people coming through the doors. (4/5)

Alex Hambleton