This fledgling London foursome’s gig last February at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg was so excellent (see my review here), that my attendance at this follow-up free show at Manhattan’s tourist-crammed, yet picturesque South Street Seaport four months later was a no-brainer. Surrounded by looming skyscrapers, the FDR Drive, majestic old cargo ships, and the Brooklyn Bridge, the Seaport’s Pier 17 is always a fun place to see a concert on a summer night – even on a muggy evening like this, which saw daytime temperatures pushing into the 90’s. Though the band wasn’t used to playing in such heat (they said it played havoc with their guitars), they gamely plowed ahead with another intense performance. In fact, this may have eclipsed the Brooklyn show, thanks to the less confining (no annoying walls or ceilings) outdoor locale and the Seaport’s punchy PA, which allowed the songs to soar.
As before, the biggest highlights included the eponymous debut album’s faster numbers. In particular, “Bad Feeling,” “Beachy Head,” and “Found Love in a Graveyard” were each sparked by James Hoare’s and Roxanne Clifford’s spiky and shimmery guitar interplay, Patrick Doyle’s pounding, near-tribal drumming, France-born Marion Herbain’s quick-fingered bass, and the band’s patented three-way harmonies. We once again got their jangly cover of ex-13th Floor Elevators singer Roky Erickson’s 1975 b-side “Starry Eyes” (from a 6-song tour-only covers EP that has now sadly sold out), to go with a trio of terrific new tunes like recent single “My Heart Beats” and “Bury Me Alive.” And when the band launched into the show-closing “Come on Over,” with its breakneck Wedding Present-like guitar attack, I imagined that even some of the more music-challenged vacationers having dinner next door at Pizzeria Uno couldn’t help but being won over.