Jake Shillingford must pray for moments like this. In the midst of feather boas, cheap beer and drunken snogs, he stretches his arms wide and silently basks in feeling deliciously right. After all, he’s waited for stardom through shoegazing, Britpop and a hundred other fads and it seemed as if [a]My Life Story[/a]’s time would never come.
Tonight, though, they fit in perfectly. It’s the last night of Freshers’ Week in Guildford and the kids are still bright-eyed and freshly ironed in new clothes. Every single one of them knows the drill by now: look happy at all costs, dance at every opportunity and remember, you are having fun.
It’s exactly what [a]My Life Story[/a] need – an audience who don’t think looking cool means slouching at the back or that trumpets are naff. They won’t smirk when the ferocious-looking violinists strike up the indie disco classic ’12 Reasons Why’ and they refuse to baulk at Jake‘s ultra-tiny, very rude Vivienne Westwood T-shirt. Because [a]My Life Story[/a] can’t survive under even the gentlest glare of cynicism.
Unfortunately, if you’re not fuelled by subsidised beer, it’s difficult to remain so joyfully enthusiastic. The clever-clever lyrical mentions of Viagra, Pret A Manger and, in new single ‘Empire Line’, heroin-taking models are tediously dated, useless attempts to rewrite ‘Oliver’s Army’ for the ’90s. The strings and trumpets are temporarily entertaining but also appear to be an elaborate (and expensive) overcompensation for real substance. And while Jake certainly knows how to keep a crowd amused with his flamboyant gestures and old-fashioned showmanship, he’s never sufficiently unique to make anyone care once the lights come back on.
Jake‘s certainly a pop star-wannabe, dripping with catchy choruses, and the band are ready for the big time. Only, like a lot of things in Freshers’ Week, they won’t seem half as special in the morning.