“Liverpool!” cries [a]The Automatic[/a]’s Rob Hawkins. “It’s been fucking ages since we’ve been here!” To be precise, it’s been almost a year and a half. The Automatic played two shows in this city at the end of 2008: one as part of MTV’s Gonzo tour, and the other as a headline band. Barely anyone turned up to either, and both were apathetic and dreadful. But – what’s this now? It’s March 2010 and there’s a sizeable, excitable crowd of faces here to see them. Word seems to have got out that The Automatic, rather than shuffling quietly off into two-album-band oblivion, have rediscovered their taste for this making-music lark, released an impressive third record on their own label and are turning in performances full of renewed passion.
Opening with recent single [b]‘Interstate’[/b], The Automatic set the tone for what follows, flooding the room with rich, powerful guitars and lush three-part vocal harmonies. Never have they sounded this polished and alive with possibilities – former [a]Yourcodenameis:milo[/a] man Paul Mullen now looks fully settled in and integral to the band’s dynamic, pushing them forward with complex riffs, nutty showmanship and a much-needed injection of aggression. The opening to [b]‘Can I Take You Home’[/b] is enormous, and it is Mullen who drives the furious outros to [b]‘This Is A Fix’[/b], [b]‘Monster’[/b] (while wearing a creepy old man mask) and [b]‘Steve McQueen’[/b] (while wearing a horse head). But it’s not just him. All of a sudden, The Automatic look and sound like a unit, playing for each other and playing their hearts out. The old hits still get the biggest reaction, and they still enjoy playing them, but this is a band with a new-found vigour and a unified vision. They look happy, and it’s infectious, translating into a hugely impressive, enjoyable show that puts smiles on people’s faces. And surely that’s the whole point, right?