Live Review: Tellison, What Now and Bear Driver at Camden Dingwalls

Live review: tellison, what now and bear driver at camden dingwalls
Live review: tellison, what now and bear driver at camden dingwalls
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Leeds up-and-comers Bear Driver are equal parts hair and passion, with joyous tambourine and whistling, and the prettiest girl/boy harmonies this side of the 60′s. ‘No Time to Speak’, ‘Wolves’ and ‘Enemy’ are lightning powerpop, a psychedelic jingle-jangle of gorgeous melodies over a blinding white guitar noise. Yeah they’re a bit like Arcade Fire in that, ooh, there’s more than four of them, and they have a girl. Unexpected comedy moment of the night comes with singer/guitarist Harry Dean (he of the biggest hair) falling backwards over an amp into the front row. Except there is no front row yet at 8:15pm. Ouch.
South African trio What Now open to the unexpected sound of Afrikaans in the audience, with Saffas being out in force to support their local heroes. Boasting a big rock sound going straight for the jugular, ‘Move On’ and ‘Toy Soldiers’ are voracious glamrock, a sound not common south of the equator. The three-piece (with a little help from a backing track) are South Africa’s answer to Placebo and coming to a stadium near you.
It’s a jubilant sweaty and beery homecoming for London boys Tellison, who bounce onstage and into ‘Get On’, the cracking opener from new album ‘The Wages of Fear’. The band clearly love the songs so much all four members (five if you count honorary member Matt Roberts) mouth the lyrics even when it’s not their turn to sing. The record’s only been out two weeks and already the entire crowd know the words to the sweet refrain in ‘Vermont’, as guitarist and sometimes-lead-singer Peter Phillips shines on one of the best tracks off the record.
Tellison write ludicrously good pop songs with touching lyrics and obscure (depending on how well-read you are) literary and film references; they manage to be at once clever and accessible, a rare thing in bands, and a delight to watch tonight. Live the songs are fleshed out into gritty alt-rock, while the sweet and fragile ‘Freud Links the Teeth and the Heart’ (introduced as a “quiet song”) surges into a heartswelling anthem. The crowd finish the words to every line and the band can’t stop grinning.
‘Rapture’ and ‘Collarbone’ compete to be the poppiest song of the summer, while ‘Horses’ and ‘Edith’ keep the sugar-rushes coming and will have you falling a little bit in love with beaming frontman Stephen Davidson. Tellison keep the audience sweet with old favourites ‘Wasp’s Nest’ and ‘Disaster! Distaster!’ while ‘Gallery’ fires off into the most fun you can have in London on a Thursday night that’s legal. A rousing encore of ‘Henry Went to Paris’ seals the deal. You need to see this band now while you can still get close enough to get flicked with sweat and see their steamed-up glasses. Because they’re on their way to conquering the world.
Review by Mel J
Photo © @tellisontalk

Camden Dingwalls, London, June 30th 2011
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