Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Gig Guide 10: Amplifier, Nottingham Rock City; 4th December 2011

I love Amplifier; they are, in my humble opinion, one of the best modern rock bands of this century. They produce modest stadium rock that would blow away so-called bigger draws, yet because they are a minority band they play minority gigs. Rock City seemed like the logical elevation play an acoustically good venue to a big audience and make their mark.

Xoyo in the summer was a smallish venue packed to the rafters with die-hard Ampcorp fans; Rock City must have bombed in sales. The band played a partitioned area from the actual main hall, in what ended up as big a room as the neighbouring Rescue Rooms - which might have been the better venue for them. The sound was dreadful and it took most of the gig to get it right. There were maybe 150 people there - max! And, I'm sorry to say that the lack of atmosphere and good sound made us all slightly less enthusiastic. In many respects the gig was a bit of an embarrassment because it should have been so much better. There was also a strange tension around the room; maybe it was the first night of a UK tour, maybe it was the fact that no one looked happy at the cold weather and drab surroundings; it just had the feeling of people queuing for something they weren't that keen on.

The Amplifier set was about 90 minutes of music - a mixture of The Octopus and some older tracks, including songs that sounded much better in a soggy field in Gloucestershire. Sometimes the band were tight and pretty devastating, but at other times they seemed out of it and this was highlighted by Sel Balamir being out of synch with the rest of the band of Strange Seas of Thought; making it sound just plain wrong.

I've struggled to be enamoured by any of the gigs I've been to in Nottingham - either Rock City or the Rescue Rooms; maybe Yes in the late 90s (but that was at the Concert Hall), Julian Cope in the early 90s (at both RC and RR) and possibly Shack in 2005; but of the other half dozen gigs I can instantly recall there has been a total anticlimax. Secret Machines, The House of Love and a couple of others have been much anticipated and left me with feeling that I maybe should have looked to see these bands in other, further afield, venues.

I'll go and see Amplifier whenever they play; but this third time was not like the others and I'll consign it to circumstances, rustiness and an undeserved lack of enthusiasm.


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