The Strange Death of Liberal England, We are the Ocean

Tiffany Daniels 26/10/2010

It's the first time I've been to The Lanes, and I can't say I'm impressed. Rather than resemble the 50's ballroom dancehall it promises, the floor looks like the remains of a grubby school dining room. The decor elsewhere is half-cut: the toilets are a conflicting stark white, no doubt a left over from its previous occupation as the Central Jobcentre. The bar is more Western saloon than American diner, and it's expensive. There is no popcorn or pie. Successful chain restaurants like Eddie Rockets have proved the theme has potential, and the bar-come bowling-alley idea is quaint, but ultimately The Lanes lacks in composure.

I can't say it makes up for it with technical scope. At the beginning of the night a group gathers in the smoking area, away from the God awful psychedelic din the support band are making. For half an hour we remain blissfully unaware of the audio havoc that's going on inside. In fact, had I been told, I would have stood directly in front of the stage, as that's where the music is most indistinguishable.

Unfortunately I wasn't forewarned, and so the first induction I have to The Lanes' terrible sound system is at the very beginning of The Strange Death of Liberal England's set. The Plymouth quintet try their hardest to get their spat post rock across to their fans, but fail badly.

The sound is abysmal: imagine a cave. Now imagine thirty volts of guitar reverb echoing around that cave. You're not even close. After a few songs, front man Adam Woolway apologetically claims, “The sound's better” the closer you get to the stage. As far as I can tell the sound's best from the other side of the wall, when you're stood in the street. That's where I soon find myself, unable to tolerate the nightmare for long.

If tonight proves one thing, it's that the power of a good sound engineer should never be underestimated. This gig has been a shambles, and through no fault of the band. When possible, avoid The Lanes.