The Beta Band : Liverpool L2

Nostalgic indie-cabaret from The Beta Band...

Hands up who remembers The Beta Band when they were one of the most exciting British bands ever? With the release of their first three brilliant EPs back in 1998, the buzz around the band was incredible. It seemed as if there was nothing they couldn’t achieve. Sadly, those early songs continue to overshadow anything they’ve done since. It’s as if ‘The Three EPs’ is haunting its makers in their attempts to move forward.

The first half of tonight’s show sees Steve Mason resplendent in a kimono while the rest of the band wear matching spacesuits. Their camp outfits are the only thing that tickle the senses as they begin by tepidly running through their offensively average ‘Hot Shots II’ album.

While ‘Squares’ makes more sense live, other offerings from the latest LP (the miserable ‘Life’ and single ‘Human Being’) are more typical, in that they emphasise just how irrelevant The Beta Band have become.

This is more evident during the second half of the show, when they ditch the costumes for baggy pants and bling-bling jewellery and jettison the new material for the hallowed tunes of old. Having meandered for 45 minutes, suddenly they’re rollicking with the intent of The Beta Band we knew and loved. ‘Dr Baker’ gets a terrifically gay, Moulin Rouge-style reworking, no less entertaining than it was three years ago – only nowadays it smacks of the kind of nostalgic indie-cabaret peddled by Shed Seven.

Let’s hope that the new breed of British guitar bands like The Coral and The Music make good – rather than make a career out of – their potential.

Imran Ahmed