Live Review: Hadouken!

This is Friday night in Liverpool, and the kids want to bounce, flirt and squeal to their hearts' content. 02 Academy, Liverpool, Friday, September 25

Before Hadouken! appear, Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ launches from the speakers, and a group of otherwise-silent 20-somethings start cheering. But when it turns into a pounding remix, they howl with disappointment. Are they lost? This is no place for purists. This is Friday night in Liverpool, and the kids want to bounce, flirt and squeal to their hearts’ content.

They erupt when the newly serious, newly independent Hadouken! arrive, though. The seething mass of limbs responds most visibly to ‘Liquid Lives’, and demented new single ‘MAD’ – during which the band are joined onstage by the lunatic mouse from the video – and closer ‘That Boy That Girl’, and it is here Hadouken! shine: when the beat hits hardest, when the words are sharpest, when they bother with a tune. As time goes on, the pit diminishes, sweat-soaked boys emerging, shattered; a girl is escorted away by her friends, clutching her eye in agony.

Despite the graphic scenes on the floor, Hadouken!’s is a very samey sound, and much of this set, even the new stuff, drones past. James Smith’s fast-paced vocal delivery necessitates standing still when in full flow, and most of the enthusiasm is left to guitarist Daniel Rice. But Smith thrives as a polemicist. He hits back at La Roux for calling Hadouken!

a “niche band” in a recent interview, and claims you can download his music illegally so long as you come to gigs and buy a T-shirt. He can’t overcome those polite manners, though; after promising new track ‘Bombshells’ – which tones down the synths in favour of a brooding melody and measured, menacing power chords – he hurls his mic to the floor twice in a bid to smash it. “Sorry,” he mews, “we just really enjoy playing that track.” The Prodigy must be so proud of their offspring…

Mike Haydock

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