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January/Airport Girl/Saloon: London Aldgate East Arts Cafe

The final day of the Winter Sprinter, and Poptones' newest can't compete with the support...

Previously worthy of the epithet 'pub rock Stereolab covers band', Saloon have evolved over the past few months into a much greater proposition. Tonight they play a blinder and show that they've developed into a band that really is worth checking out. Throbbing guitar riffs, menacing violins via John Cale and stabbing Moog symphonies build up to a captivating unit that takes

a delicious hold of your senses.

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For a record consecutive fourth year, Airport Girl are one of the most promising bands in Britain. This year, though, vocalist Rob Price's singing lessons have paid off (hurrah!), there's between-song banter (double hurrah!) and some of the band at least look like they want to be on stage (oh well, two out of three ain't bad). What Airport Girl lack in stage presence, however, they make up for by bringing on the drunken reels of a violinist for the ballads and having a seven-minute opus in the cut-and-thrust dirty melodic anthem of 'The Foolishness Of Love Is The Closest That We Come To Greatness' (triple hurrah and, while we're there, cheers).



Three nights in the doldrums of January have been augmented by Track And Field, an organisation that has rekindled London's indiepop community over the past two years with clubs, gigs and records. The second annual Winter Sprinter gig series has been a successful showcase for Britain?s up-and-coming indie acts. Sadly, it draws to a close with Poptones' signings January. The ninth band in three days of great bands, they?re without doubt a big disappointment. Their sepia-tinted, tremulous guitar offerings have the same kind of resonance as a stranger in the pub telling you his life story when you don't much care. Where on record they?re capable of the occasional romantic elegance, there's no opportunity to engage emotionally with this ponderous slo-core outfit live. Especially when the spectre of drum solos looms its ugly head, when you're reminded of, at best, shoegazing and, at worst, prog-rock over-indulgence.



Ben Clancy

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