"In some ways they are a classic band, in that they have been around the block and are still frighteningly young, a bit like Traffic were in 1969-70."
Electric Soft Parade - Rotown, Rotterdam 29/9/06
Its time for that most shameful of admissions; the "I don't really know much about this band" line, which is trotted out on many occasions by many a scribe destined for mediocrity (or should that read New Media?). What the hell, I don't. I know the singles, Cold World, the Human Body EP and little else, save for some astonishing new material the band have recorded on their Myspace site such as Secrets.
No, Incendiary is more familiar with the brothers White's side project from ESP, Brakes, who regular readers will know as favourites of this magazine. Still, we were looking forward to this ESP gig in Rotterdam, as indeed were they; as it's been (as Tom tells the crowd) almost four years since they last graced the boards over here.
All the usual descriptions of their music (yes the ones I'd read in passim and as research for the gig in Rotown) are validated by this - it has to be said - pretty triumphal performance; the classic rock band stance, the multi instrumentation, the lippy demeanour but mostly the incredibly, consistently high level of the song-writing. Noted songs are the "new ones" one poppy thrash which I think is called If That's The Case and another developing jam which reaches Guided By Voices levels of sonic intensity. Cold World sounds great as indeed does Start Again's maudlin crunch. Another point of note is that Alex has a very, very empathic vocal delivery which has the odd Revolver era Macca inflection.
There's a refreshing degree of fluency and devil may care attitude about the ESP live show. In some ways they are a classic band, in that they have been around the block and are still frighteningly young, a bit like Traffic were in 1969-70. There's a sense of openness about them too which is refreshing given the amount of careerist puppets currently diverting teen attention. The audience, modest but respectable given the time between the band's Dutch gigs, are happy not to say relieved that a band who promise so much haven't folded in the face of well documented adversity. Indeed, on this evidence, good times are just around the corner.
Words: Richard Foster.