London Highbury Garage

In 30 minutes of snot and sweat, [a][/a] offer absolutely no surprises.

Something has gone wrong. In the year since first appeared, their hair might be less spiky and colourful, but little else has changed – and the expected breakthrough has never really materialised.

Thirty minutes into this gig, and only one person has bothered to get up and stage-dive. Faced with this deficit of numbers, [a][/a]’s singer Joe Brush, does the only sane thing – he dedicates a song to the flailing stage-diver and then doubles the numbers by joining him. It’s a tragic sight.

The problem for [a][/a] is identity, or in their case, a lack of one. They’re still loud, punkily melodic, and a bit like Ash. And there’s the rub. Apparently what the band themselves most want is an end to articles calling them the ‘Irish Green Day‘. But while they’re making music like this, they’ll have to keep wishing. Songs like ‘Freakazoid’ and ‘Big Green Bath’ bounce along all cranked and muscular, but still dangerously close to the world of big shorts punk.

It’s something that becomes even clearer as new songs ‘Black & Red’ and ‘Escape To Space’ skid and scramble over almost identical territory. Nobody can deny their conviction and puppy dog enthusiasm, but in 30 minutes of snot and sweat, [a][/a] offer absolutely no surprises.