The Bandits : London Camden Monarch

Looks like Liverpool has just produced its second great group of the year...

The renaissance in the Liverpool music scene might have produced a rash of new bands, but the question remains: just how many of them are actually any good? Take The Coral out of the equation and you’re left with a lot of groups who sound a little bit like them, only just not much cop. Which makes tonight’s performance by fellow scenesters The Bandits even more of a triumph.

The Bandits’ mystique within Liverpool stems at least partly from the fact that they run the Bandwagon – a club that serves as the epicentre of the current uprising. The moment they walk on stage, however, it’s clear that their reputation doesn’t just rest on that alone. They look good (particularly singer John Robinson’s post-Campag red cycling top), while musically they offer a sharper take on The Coral‘s warped psychedelia. Although they’ve obviously absorbed many of the same influences (Beefheart, The La’s, dub, jazz), The Bandits are more interested in pop songs like ‘Take It And Run’, the closest anyone in the current scene has got to replicating the magical thrill of The La’s ‘There She Goes’.

It’s not a one-off. They play the two tracks that comprise their upcoming single (‘Free Me Rain’ and ‘The Warning’) and they’re immense – a swampy amalgam of early Beta Band and Mersey beatpop. They even manage to close with an entirely faithful version of The Clash‘s reggae-punk rabble-rouser ‘Guns Of Brixton’ without anyone raising an eyebrow. Looks like Liverpool has just produced its second great group of the year.

James Oldham