Nickelback/Rival Schools / Backyard Babies / The Parkinsons : London Astoria

The latest NME Carling Show has hair - and lots of it...

It’s 7pm. Four semi-naked, pouting Portugese punks are causing chaos in the Astoria. It’s 25 years since punk had a grip on London like no other musical movement has managed since, and The Parkinsons are preparing themselves for the new wave.

Their music could be dismissed as simplistic if they weren’t so captivating to watch – singer Afonse Zhelmer is a star in the making – skinny like Iggy, but working the moshpit like Axl Rose. It’s both a compelling and electrifying experience that ends with the guitarist somewhere in the crowd, and the singer performing oral sex on his microphone, precariously hanging from the speaker stacks. Good start.

From there on, no one quite matches up, certainly not the Backyard Babies. Following the youthful excess of The Parkinsons, they sound like relics from another era, all greasy long hair and cheesy guitar solos.

[a]Rival Schools[/a] bring some much-needed youthfulness back into the equation, a welcome return from the new breed. These geeky New Yorkers recapture the buoyancy of all the songs from debut LP ‘United By Fate’. And the kids seem to be in love too – every note is lapped up like it’s the last they’ll hear.

Which leaves [a]Nickelback[/a]. If The Parkinsons are punk rock, Backyard Babies dinosaur and [a]Rival Schools[/a] (whisper it) EMO, then [a]Nickelback[/a] are shamelessly stadium.

Having sold millions of records in their native North America, they take their live show and squeeze it into the relatively tiny Astoria. It’s like trying to get an elephant into a mini. There’s a drum kit so big it looks like it could only have been craned into the venue. On the flanks are two metallic podiums, their only purpose being so that bandmembers can climb up and display their ‘fretwork’ to its full.

Their songs sound like the band look – beefy, rugged and hairy, with an emphasis on social comment. Sound bad? It can be. But with the enormous ‘Too Bad’ and single ‘How You Remind Me’, world domination is almost certainly going to be theirs.

Julian Marshall