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The Coral - O2 Shepherd Bush Empire - July 15th 2010 (LIVE REVIEW)

Friday, 16 July 2010 Written by Nick Hewitt
The Coral - O2 Shepherd Bush Empire - July 15th 2010 (LIVE REVIEW)

Wednesday night at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire began with Cherry Ghost, whose material sounded like it could have been lifted from the main acts latest album. It turned out to be indicative of the music that followed and The Coral launched into an eagerly subdued introduction with ‘More Than A Lover’ and ‘Roving Jewel’. The crowd watched on with what seemed like more energy than the band, whose static performance was a little sedating.

With the audience accepting that ‘Butterfly House’ is an experimental, downbeat album; the new tracks were well received and delivered with intricate guitar picking and Simon and Garfunkle-esque vocals. As the new tracks progressed, however, it seemed that this live set would be better served in the midday sun at an outdoor festival, where listeners could kick back in a semi-intoxicated state and daydream. As it was, the morose performance in this setting encouraged a docile crowd and the overall effect lacked impact early on.

Dipping into their back catalogue with songs such as ‘Simon Diamond’ stirred the proceedings and built up to ‘1000 Years’ and ‘Pass It On’, which prompted the first mass sing-a-long of the evening. However, instead of developing this, the tempo regressed again and the vocals began to sound mumbled through the speakers. At this point, it became apparent how difficult it is to differentiate many of the new songs from each other, as the arrangements are quite similar. People made use of this part of the set by drifting in and out of the audience to top up drinks and go for smoke breaks, questioning the ability of the Liverpudlian five-piece to captivate a crowd for the duration.

ImageThe set ends with ‘Calendars and Clocks’ and a healthy applause for the inevitable encore. I’m not sure what happened off stage, but when they returned to their instruments, they could have been a different band entirely. The intro riff for ‘Goodbye’ wailed out over a re-energised audience, who progressed from polite head nodding to dancing. ‘Dreaming Of You’ is instantly recognisable amidst an almighty cheer and most of the seated section take to their feet before the last song ‘North Parade’. As one of a few upbeat songs on the new album, you couldn’t help but think that the set had climaxed on the previous track, but at least it had climaxed. The last-minute save of what had otherwise been a pedestrian performance was relieving and the band left the stage with drummer, Ian Skelley, literally running off.

As a live act, The Coral seem to better suit their previous musical stylings, as their new album offers a less engaging performance that is visually ordinary and a little draining with the experimental aspects. Never the less, they show the capacity to produce thoroughly entertaining music and, had the entire set been like the encore, onlookers would have charged forth from the Empire to tell anyone who’d listen that they’re a must see band. So it’s with a slight tinge of disappointment that the crowd dispersed, no doubt thinking of how this band once was and could be again.

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