Liverpool 02 Academy
20th February 2019
Reviewed by Rob Harrison
Cutting a swath through the huge crowd here tonight, there appears at least to my eyes no evidence of any pre-brexit belt tightening. I mean for a indie band on a small label it’s quite an achievement, but maybe, they are bigger than I thought, strange.
My puzzlement continues until the band start up, and begin to sound strangely like Steely Dan. This is just good old fashioned boogie music. What sounded sort of radical on CD tends to sound a bit tame live. The band continue and throw more influences into the pot, sounding at times like Boz Scaggs in an LA studio mode.
It’s a strange postmodern fusion of seventies Adult Orientated Rock, garnered to appeal to those of a certain lifestyle wanting music as a background rather than wanting a soundtrack to rebel or at least pretend let’s say. And so like Sherlock Holmes I’m putting the pieces together.
Groups of males with a high percentage of disposable income and other males of a certain age attracted by the muso elements of the group standing around, they could be looking at motorbikes. With guys like this everybody could be a feminist.
They appear to have mined the dark vein of riffs that have lain dormant since the seventies, but that’s not to take away from the fun bits, as it is a genuine enjoyable experience, it’s just they appear to be selling something quite old within a hipster context. In fact, White Denim appear to have cleaned up the white plastic soul market for those who like to shake guilty white feet.
On a positive note though, the band are a really tight unit and it’s in no small measure to the drummer and bass player, who lock together as a killer rhythm section. The drummer in particular is one of the best I’ve seen in ages.
Halfway through the recycled Black Oak Arkansas riffs begin to sound decidedly vanilla and the show dips slightly, they have been playing for quite a while now. The singer /guitarist admits he has a cold but will dispense with the obligatory farce of going off and coming back on to play an encore, and just play through to the curfew. They’ve been on for what seems two hours and so they carry on.
For my part I decide to lean on the bar, put my notepad down, and just watch the band, which in the end is a smart move. The aircraft hangar, that is the setting of the 02, seems to visibly shrink, and become an intimate space. The whole experience is transformed into something more akin to watching a bar room band.
Expectation seems to evaporate and seems to sit better with the band themselves. They appear to be having a bit more fun, playing around and doing weird time signatures and general freak outs.
So all ended well in the end. White Denim then continue to be a strange conundrum indeed.