It’s telling that the room empties two songs into The Magic Gang’s headline set, and that at several points throughout the evening, the crowd heckles them mercilessly. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the band played the same song for the entirety of their half an hour on stage as their one-dimensional songwriting leaves little room for variation. Of course there’s nothing wrong with this formula; AC/DC have made a career out of re-packaging the same set of tracks over and over for the past 42 years and the Vaccines have two studio albums filled with their by-the-numbers indie.
The problem with the Magic Gang is that most, if not all, of their songs sound like rejected Peace B-sides. There’s no edge. No excitement. Unlike a band such as Bloody Knees, who will headline next weeks ‘DIY Presents’ event in the same venue, you can’t help but feel like you’ve seen it all before. They amble about the stage looking lost throughout and whilst their playing is definitely proficient, it really doesn’t engage anyone but the hardcore fans.
You might question whether crowd-surfing in a venue as intimate as The Old Blue Last is a good idea, especially with a crowd that are clearly unsure of the band. These fans do not. They just do it anyway, and seeing them flip themselves from the stage is probably the most interesting thing to happen there tonight.
It’s not all bad though. Closing track Shallow actually has some bite to it, adding a gritty sense of urgency to the saccharine guitar lead and vocals which have thus far polluted the set. The crowd surfers return with a vengeance with one man striking an almost biblical pose and getting paraded around The Old Blue Last by a sea of hands whilst two more fling themselves from the stage and the bassist joins them as well.
That being said, one decent song does not necessarily make for a decent show, and Shallow does not save the set from being bland and inoffensive at best. They clearly already have DIY’s support, and NME will no doubt latch on to them and refuse to let go – but if this really is the sound of 2015, then rock music may be in a lot more trouble than we first thought.
Written by Alex Macrow