Larrikin Love, Tiny Dancers, Bobby Cook

Dan Round 30/01/2007

Tonight, the Birmingham Academy 2 is buzzing with excitement. Over the past few months, young punk-folk indie ragamuffins Larrikin Love have been amassing attention from all corners of the musical map, and this, their first gig of their January/February tour, is the culmination of the fever-pitch so far. Consisting of a majority of under 21s, indie-kid audience, but with a large minority of older, bearded folksy types, the Academy 2 is packed with every single fan inside knowing the band could have quite easily sold out the main academy. To the band themselves, surely this was an important, stepping-stone kind of gig.

First on stage was the rising star of Bobby Cook, a Londoner playing a twangier brand of folk with other members of the Cook family in his band. With uplifting, balladeering songs and a finely-tuned Thom Yorke-esque vocal, Cook does more than his fair share in gearing up the crowd for the main event. Also finely tuned, second support band Tiny Dancers don't play one dodgy chord or sing one off-key vocal part. The band play nice indie-pop, but that's all it really is - “nice”. A tad MOR, the band do their bit but seldom enthuse or inspire, and with the exception of the odd couple of more raw, lively songs in the set, the band don't capture or replicate Bobby Cook's previous successes.

After a slightly longer than predicted gap between support and headline acts, when Larrikin Love finally did arrive it became apparent that the wait could have been to do with Edward Larrikin's state. Spitting and spluttering, the singer raised eyebrows and created rife gossip - had he taken any substances beforehand, or was it an act? Despite this, during the performance he didn't do much wrong with just one occasion each of messed-up guitar playing and forgetfulness of lyrics. As soon as the band made their arrival, “Edwould” was chanted and the band did not disappoint, playing the live favourite and album standout track early on. Also chanted on the band's arrival was “Fuck the Kooks”, a reference to the word-fuelled spat Larrikin and The Kooks participated in at Reading Festival last year. The crowd knew every word to the modern indie demi-classics of “Sixth Queens”, the opener, the pounding “Happy As Annie”, and new single “A Day In The Life”, which was treated to an acoustic introduction played and sung solely by Edward. The band, however, also relished the chance to play lesser known B-Sides, unrecorded songs and new pieces - included in the set were songs like “Cucumber” and “Ribbon Dance Mews”. The band also played out a 2-song encore, coming back on to the patriotism-questioning ska of “Downing Street Kindling”, followed by another B-Side, the always fun whistle-blowing of “Silver”. As that song faded out and Larrikin Love mumbled their goodbyes, the crowd members scuttled out of the venue and onto the streets of Birmingham city centre in a sense of awe.

Larrikin Love were absolutely impressive - from Edward's uber-cool eyeliner, the band's dress sense, Micko Larkin's thumping guitar playing and the euphoria created by songs such as “On Sussex Downs” and “Forever Untitled” - the band certainly dazzled. One personal gripe - I feel that too much of the set was made up of B-sides, and that they could (should?) have performed a couple more album tracks to bolster the set. This aside, I have no hesitation in saying Larrikin Love were genuinely superb, and pioneered a wonderful live experience.

Going from strength-to-strength, it can't be long before the masses are converted to Larrikinism - on the evidence of tonight, this band are well and truly a special musical unit.