The weight of expectation doesn’t hold back the Salford duo. Soundhaus, Northampton (April 4)
Of all the bad juju that can afflict a new band, worse even than the Curse Of The Mercury Prize, is the hex that surrounds the Picks Of The New Year. Loaded with the weight of a thousand “ones to watch” features, you might fear The Ting Tings would be straining under the burden. This is, after all, their first proper headline tour and they’ve only got two singles to their name, one of which is already valued at more than £100 to collectors.
But no danger; in front of a packed Soundhaus, front-row crammed rib-bustlingly tight with young, pissed-up and bouncy punters, The Ting Tings grasp the opportunity with both hands. They’ve the strength of experience (industry old hands, their previous band foundered after failing to set the world alight) and the energy of two people discovering their true sound, forged from very different musical backgrounds, for the first time.
They bounce on looking like punchy, confident boxers, Jules in ever-present shades, Katie in ever-present hat. Bravely, they blast through their two singles first, Katie owning the stage during ‘Great DJ’, the demented chant of “The drums! The drums! The drums!” setting the energy levels for the rest of the short, sharp and perfectly formed set. ‘Fruit Machine’ follows swiftly, Katie actually knocking
her hat off for once, so enthusiastic are her yelped “Ker-ching!”s.
From then on in, it’s all relatively unknown material, but you wouldn’t know it to watch the crowd, who respond equally well to the insistent rhythms and Avril Lavigne-meets-Blondie sass of ‘Keep Your Head’. Katie politely demands hush for “The Ting Tings’ attempt at a slow song,” the winsome, whimsical ‘Traffic Light’, which uses the Highway Code as a metaphor for the rules of love (“Don’t you be a roundabout… we’ve come so far, we’re back to the start”); ‘Be The One’, with its sweet new wave, Altered Images-type vibe, is equally charming. “I don’t wanna be the one making all the noise”, pleads Katie, but we think the lady doth protest too much. One of the best things about this band is witnessing how much they’re clearly enjoying themselves making all this noise – Katie grinning broadly at Jules as she thrashes out her barre chords. Their kickass way with a simple pop tune doesn’t hurt, either, but uncomplicated as the music is, there’s no doubt, watching them, how much they mean it.
As for people who carp about Katie’s guitar-playing ability, what do you want – Carlos bloody Santana? Whatever happened to three chords and the truth? She’s a good rhythm player and the depth of the sound these two manage to achieve with one guitar, some drums and a few loop pedals is more than many traditional four-pieces could muster, and infinitely more fun than a trolley-load of Tesco indie. An extended version of ‘That’s Not My Name’ sees Katie whacking the big Ting Tings drum as if it’s said something unpleasant about her mother, before turning the beater round to take her pop frenzy out on a hapless cowbell.
They encore on album closer ‘We Started Nothing’, whose slinky, strutty rhythm and Katie’s funk falsetto keep the crowd dancing through one long, final jam before The Ting Tings stumble off exhausted and happy. This is one bubble, clearly, that won’t be burst too easily.
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