London WC2 Astoria

Despite the fact that all but two of tonight's songs come from next year's [B]'Surviving The Quiet'[/B] album, the crowd slam and scream like they were old friends...

If we can accept a bunch of nondescript, middle-class students pretending they sold their souls at the crossroads (hello, [a]Gomez[/a]), then surely we can accept this: the sound of scruffy London kids playing blown-amp, broken-hearted Yank rock.

Deafeningly tuneful, [a]Seafood[/a] take in the exhilarating wind-tunnel guitars of [a]Dinosaur Jr.[/a], the fragile melodicism of Sonic Youth, and a touch of Sebadoh saltiness. Tonight, though, is crunch time. Despite a support slot with kindred spirits Idlewild and a debut LP in the can, they still have to prove there’s more to them than just unimpeachable record collections.

It’s not hard. As the previously slight ‘Psychic Rainy Nights’ smoothly sprawls into an explosion of psychotropic pop genius, the transition of [a]Seafood[/a] from amiable noisy tykes into gently anthemic contenders is complete. That a band who, only a year ago could barely take to the stage at the Monarch in Camden without dissolving into a shambles, command the Astoria stage with so much confidence is remarkable.

Despite the fact that all but two of tonight’s songs come from next year’s ‘Surviving The Quiet’ album, the crowd slam and scream like they were old friends. The squalling ‘Guntrip’ and the singles ‘Easy Path’ and ‘This Is Not An Exit’ are all definite statements on the current [a]Seafood[/a] sound, but it’s the gentle strains of ‘Led By Bison’, the only time tonight the band give their melodies space to breathe, that reveals just what treasures might lie in wait.

The vicious American gothic of ‘Porchlight’ closes proceedings in a suitably chaotic manner, bassist Kevin whispering into his mic as he leaves, “Sorry about the slow songs.” No apologies necessary. It was exquisite.