Talia Kraines

10:18 5th June 2006

Although never reaching the heights of popularity as their French contemporaries Daft Punk and Air, Parisian four piece Phoenix, have a dedicated battalion of fans out in force tonight.  Filled with people for whom Phoenix is the soundtrack to their mature dinner parties, label-mates The Like play the part of a distinctinly incongruous support act.

Releasing their debut album earlier in the year, Charlotte, Tennessee & Z are doing little to shake off the cynical viewpoint that they are three girls with middling talent, only given a record deal because their dads are all music industry stalwarts.  All girl bands are of course always that little bit more interesting than their male counterparts, and most of the songs on debut LP ‘Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking’ leave you expecting to see them appearing as the band in the Bronze Bar on Buffy any day.  As they reach the last night of their Phoenix support tour, they ooze lethargy and seem bored.  The punchy start of ‘What I Say and What I Mean’ gathers a little energy, but sadly misses the buzz of the fully produced version.

With the recent release of ‘It’s Never Be Like That’, anyone who recalls seeing Phoenix at the turn of the decade, as young whipper-snappers bouncing insanely around a tiny Camden stage and posing in skinny ties (before they were ubiquitous), will realise how much they seem to have ‘grown up’.  The drum beats of new song ‘Napoleon Says’ herald their arrival on stage, and it’s not long before they settle into more familiar territories with the luxiorious twinkles of ‘Run Run Run’.  With uncharacteristic showmanship, frontman Thomas Mars, turns the lights off halfway through ‘Alphabetical’s’ ‘Everything is Everything’ launching himself into the crowd in darkness.  New songs sit comfortably alongside the old, and although there’s a vague sense of the band having fallen slightly too much into an indie mould, the quirks of ‘Lost and Found’ and ‘Courtesy Laughs’ go someway to appease those concerns.

They’ve never managed to set the world on fire, but for the now grown-up faithful here tonight, Phoenix make a perfect soundtrack for a hazy summer evening.