The Coral : London EC2 Cargo

It's underwater love...

By now, you’ll probably already know that The Coral are a six-piece band from the Wirral, who’ve released two astonishing EPs (‘Shadows Fall’ and ‘The Oldest Path’). Both those records have been characterised by a freewheeling romanticism that offers a charmed introduction to their world without even hinting at what they’re

capable of live.

In the flesh, The Coral are from another planet. The first song they play tonight lasts for one and a half minutes, and it compresses the whole 20-year history of Echo & The Bunnymen into 90 seconds, while still finding time to include echoes of Madness, The La’s and The Specials. Six kids aged between 17 and 20 – they’re without doubt the most amazing band NME has seen all year. The Strokes might draw from the hippest sources, but The Coral are a group spiralling off into territory that no-one’s even thought of before.

It’s hard to know where to begin. Tonight, the acoustic mysticism of the EPs is replaced by a more muscular sound inspired by all the greatest music of the last four decades. Fuelled by the jerky charisma of their frontman and oldest member, James Skelly, they zigzag between being the punk rock Doors and the psychedelic sound of teenage Britain. Their songs (from the previously unheard ‘Bad Man’ through to the incredible ‘I Remember When’)

are consistently disorienting

rides through thrillingly unexpected time signatures and wondrously distorted pop melodies.

They look weird, but they gel amazingly. By the time they finish with a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ (and, let’s face it, who,

if anyone, can get away with that?), we’re left in no doubt that they’re a complete one-off. Elsewhere on the site is a review of Stereophonics – the ultimate example of everything that’s awful about modern British music. Along with The Music, The Crescent

and The Parkinsons, The Coral

are forging a new and brilliant alternative. The opposition don’t stand a chance.

James Oldham