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After a period of sustained inactivity, [a]China Drum[/a] are back as [B]The Drum[/B], and the name-change isn't just cosmetic.

The artisans formerly known as [a]China Drum[/a] have sped through ‘Can’t Stop These Things’ and ‘Meaning’ without so much as pausing for breath, still crammed full of the same fury as the Transit-van days of old. It’s like they were never gone. Which is half the problem.

After a period of sustained inactivity, [a]China Drum[/a] are back as The Drum, and the name-change isn’t just cosmetic. Vocalist Adam Lee has slipped into a velvet sweater and saunters round the stage with the mic behind his back, the band liberally employ samples and assorted electronica, but most of the punters tonight aren’t here for anything new. They’re here for [I]China [/I]Drum, for the splenetic popcore blowouts that the quartet made their stock-in-trade – and when oldie ‘Biscuit Barrel FMR’ blends light and shade like American emo’s finest, it’s more than understandable.

A shame for them, then, that The Drum‘s new material is such a spectacular quantum leap on from their former hit-or-miss H|sker D|-isms. One song showcased tonight, ‘Horns Front’, sounds like Six By Seven feeding the Roxy Music songbook to the dogs – it’s easily the best thing they’ve ever done. In a room of lairy punk kids, it goes down like a ballooning Branson. [I]”Even I can be pretentious”, [/I]insists Adam at one point during ‘Meaning’. Sadly for him, that’s the last thing his fans want.

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