Live: The Flying Squad + Screaming Maldini + The Phenomenal Handclap Band @ Plug, 17/09/2009

Plug is sparse when The Flying Squad take to the stage, and the heckling from the audience suggests that the majority of its members are friends of the band.

The Flying Squad have a distinctive Sheffield sound; however their list of influences is eclectic ranging from Kraftwerk to The Smiths. Lead singer Ben Stanton’s lyrics are at times incomprehensible giving the affect he is mumbling. Most of the audience remained at the bar or seated, and their performance could have gone on unawares.

Screaming Maldini (made up of ex-members of Situationists) brought some much needed spark to the evening, filling up Plug’s small stage with trumpets, keyboards and synths. They execute complicated orchestral tunes, encompassing punchy lyrics from the two vocalists, but sometimes stray out of tune. Currently unsigned, top marks go to Screaming Maldini for being inventive – yet perhaps they should tone it down a touch and practise on tightening their performance.

This year has seen an influx of artists who have channelled the 1980s in their music, such as the likes of La Roux, Little Boots and Lady Gaga, so it is refreshing to see The Phenomenal Handclap Band have taken to another decade – the 70s. With most of the band’s eight members bedecked in flares and long flowing hair, they open with ‘Testimony’ and most of the audience struggle not to dance along.

Each member takes it in turns to lead a song, giving each track individuality and giving the show a multidimensional element. The two female band members shimmy along to each song with tambourines, whilst the guitarists bash their wah pedals creating a psych-rock vibe.

The gig concludes with ’15 to 20′, transporting Plug’s dance floor back to the disco era.  After blurring the boundaries between past and present, The Phenomenal Handclap Band exit the stage after a performance full of gusto and charisma.

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