Palladium: Cockpit, Leeds, Sunday, February 3

Musical atrocity or just good fun? The case for the defence…3

Catching Palladium tonight, NME’s mind can’t stop wandering to Stephen Fry’s excellent novel Making History. Published in the late ’90s, it suggests the notion of what might have happened if Hitler’s dad was infertile, exploring the subsequent repercussions it would have had on civilization en masse. Now, I’m (forcibly and vocally) assured it’s a view shared by no other than I at NME, but on nights like tonight, with a nod to the thinking of Fry’s controversial novel, I also can’t help thinking what might have happened if the mothers of The Cure, The Smiths and The Wedding Present had been born barren. If, led by the above, apathy, sighing and the celebration of angst hadn’t invaded indie in the ’80s like a mopey gladioli-wielding army, it’s highly probable you wouldn’t be reading this review. We’d all be rolling around on the floor, shagging each others’ brains out and spelling our names out in massive lines of gak. On a speedboat. In such a climate, Palladium would be the biggest band in the world.

See, led by five-stringed bassist Peter Pepper and joined on drums by Rocky Morris (who looks like Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys), guitarist Rostas Fez (who looks like Brian May with a skin-wasting disease), and keyboardist Rufio Sandilands (who just looks like a twat, truth be told), Palladium are the most aspirational, good time, damn fun pop band to swing around in an absolute age. Sure, with their feather boas and white chinos they’re as conventionally cool as Gambia in summertime, but you can bet that they’re the ones drowning in champagne and sexy cuddles come kicking out time. And with good reason. Their recent single – the caddishly divine ‘High 5’ – ‘White Lady’ and ‘Greatest Dancer’ dip into such oft-denounced influences as Hall & Oates, mid-era Police and, most bizarrely of all, Toto, while at the same time, being three of the best songs NME has heard since we were children, staying up past our bedtimes to tape Human League songs off the radio. Yet it’s within their best song, ‘Miracles’, and Pepper’s declaration of “I believe in miracles!/So let’s be hopeless, let’s be young!” that they truly articulate their wonder. It’s within such a beautiful, bashful slurge of futile joy that they tap into the age-old wonder of pop; that authenticity and credibility don’t really mean squat when you’re uppercutting the clouds, heart a-flurry and gawping at an idiot in a sun visor bashing his keyboards with his forehead. Ah, for alternate realities – you don’t get that shit with ‘Death Of A Disco Dancer’, y’know…

James McMahon