London is a cruel place for bands to gig. Audiences have seen it all before. They stand at the bar with their arms folded, demanding to be impressed. A Plastic Rose found that out the hard way when they came to North London, but as Gavin Lloyd observed, it didn’t dent their momentum at all.
Six things we learned while watching A Plastic Rose in London…
1) Despite getting a fair bit of Radio 1 support courtesy of Huw Stephens recently, the crowd Upstairs at The Garage gathered to watch A Plastic Rose is surprisingly sparse. You can actually count the number of people in attendance. There are 28 people watching the band.
2) While there’s a lot to be said for the Slipknots and KISSs of this world, sometimes there’s something nice about watching four normal blokes just playing songs. They have a modest ‘backdrop’ (which consists of their logo spraypainted on a small sheet), while the band themselves are decked out in outfits clearly stuffed last-minute into a tour-ready suitcase. Their modest approach actually makes a nice change in a world of well-groomed photoshoot-ready “rock stars.”
3) It’s no surprise then, that this band’s main selling point is their songs, and those songs in question definitely grab the attention of those in attendance. While the band predominantly play older material, their newer songs suggest that with their forthcoming second full length they might be sitting on one of the best mainstream rock records of the year. The pop sensibility of ‘This Side of Winter’ and the raw yet hook-loaded ‘Someone’s Daughter’ are undoubtedly highlights of the set.
4) Band whose singers sing in their regional accents are ace. See: Twin Atlantic and Biffy Clyro. While A Plastic Rose hail from Northern Ireland rather than Scotland, Ian McHugh and Gerry Norman’s thick Irish vocal exchanges are a lot better than when all UK bands were putting on mock American accents thinking they’d stand a better chance of getting KROQ airtime.
5) Despite the small crowd, the band seemed to be having a lovely time, especially Norman who has a perma-cheeky grin on his. His inter-song jokes about heroin may not be conventional or particularly PC, but they raise plenty of giggles from those in attendance. The obvious delight on his face when he sees a single audience member singing along is a welcome alternative to the front men who toss out clichéd audience appreciation with the same dead behind the eyes look adopted by unsuccessful pornstars.
6) Although getting off to something of a shaky start playing to a sparse crowd of unimpressed Londoners, A Plastic Rose slowly but surely hook their audience in. At the start of the night it seemed like they had a monumental challenge on their hands, but by the end of the evening the crowd have swarmed to the front of the stage and are obeying the band’s every command. The transformation from quiet Wednesday night gig into something special is a thing of wonder, and if they can also pull off a conversion like this on a larger crowd, the sky will be the limit for A Plastic Rose.