Electric Soft Parade : Newcastle University

The proof is abundant: what we have here is a band that is starting to really mean something to people

The Electric Soft Parade will never be the most vogueish of groups, however many Mercury nominations they garner or coffee table rock plaudits they receive. They'll always be the kids who loved indie so much they formed a band. Not for money, or for fame, but to make records that sound like The Boo Radleys and sundry other barely remembered mid-'90s acts. On nights like tonight, however, playing to an audience of people roughly indistinguishable from the members of the band, they elevate their simple aims into something wholly more captivating.

Perhaps their choice of cover version, a fragile keyboard-driven interpretation of Elvis' 'Always on my Mind', is trying a little too hard to please. But as soon as ESP launch into their impressive cluster of charming pop gems, the Brighton duo begin winning hearts by the second. Indeed, 'Silent To The Dark' sounds like the tune it's always promised to be, the meeting ground between Teenage Fanclub's joyous melody and Barrett-era Floyd paranoia. 'Empty at the End' bounces around in its own bubble of silly pop glee, until the inevitable outburst of thrillingly cosmic guitar lunacy.

The proof is abundant: what we have here is a band that is starting to really mean something to people. Whether it's their status as torchbearers for 'proper indie' that endears them to many, or their use as a crutch for those who remain hungover from Britpop, Newcastle lost a few more hearts to ESP's cause tonight. One would figure that your town would be next.

James Jam

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