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MeMe Detroit + Inkerman + Wilde + Effigy For Sleep + Pretence Live @ o2 Academy 3 Birmingham – 22nd January 2016

It feels like forever since I have been out to review a show so last night was a more than welcome little adventure. The occasion was the official album launch show for MeMe Detroit’s debut LP Live To Love You’ll Love To Live, a record that you’ll be able to see reviewed on these pages next week. But back to last night, there were 4 other bands on the bill and this is how it all went down.

The first band to take the stage in front of what was a sparse early crowd was Pretence. I don’t enjoy  being down on bands but at the same time I also pride myself on my honesty, and especially in the early stages of their set the band looked bored. There was a complete lack of energy on stage which was in stark contrast to their rock n roll meets Indie sound. Somewhat ironically Boring was a decent tune and their cover of the Libertines classic Don’t Look Back Into The Sun was an obvious highpoint. In addition I don’t think that the band even introduced themselves once while they were on stage. It may only seem a small thing but these small things all add up.

Three piece Effigy For Sleep were up next and I have to say that their performance was absolutely fantastic. They interacted with the audience really well, frontman Calvert Stephens has a brilliant vocal and the band just seemed to enjoy being on stage. Their sound is an incredible mix of styles ranging from funk to blues, to rock n roll to just straight rock and they even throw in a bit grunge every now and then just for good measure. Their cover of Where Is My Mind from Pixies was great and their whole set was really enjoyable from front to back.

This relates to the two bands above but is also a more general point about unsigned bands. Don’t be afraid to tell the audience the name of the song you’re about to play or just played. There’s a fair chance you’re playing to a load of people who don’t know you or your music so they have no idea what that song is that you just hammered out. Plus, if someone does like one of your songs how are they ever going to go away and download it or whatever if they haven’t got a clue what it’s called? Again, it’s only a small thing but these small things are important!

From the wild range of styles of Effigy For Sleep, Wilde went completely the other way and right back to basics. They are a straight up rock band, nothing more and nothing less. They’ve got a great gritty, hard rock feel as well as great hair and frankly, what more do you want? Their performance was completely on point; it was slick and professional with the band obviously being well rehearsed. Maybe I’m Paranoid is a slow, brooding affair with a big, imposing chorus while Touch Me Again strips away the band’s more grungy leanings for a more straightforward rock sound. It was a really good performance from a band I will certainly be keeping an eye on in the future.

With the night’s entertainment comfortably into its 2nd half it was time for Inkerman. Being brutally honest I have to say that their performance was a bit of a mixed bag. They got things started with the intro from David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel which was a nice touch before sliding straight into a tune of their own, a transition which was in truth a little clunky. The quartet returned to Bowie for a great rendition of Heroes before moving onto the highlight of their originals The Wanderer. It’s a tune with a great little melody and it positively skips along. My main issue was at times it felt like vocally the band were just trying too hard, it felt like they were forcing things. When they dialled back and took a ‘less is more’ and more laid back approach like on The Wanderer they sounded fantastic, so that was a little frustrating, because there’s definitely a good band in there.

I have been championing MeMe Detroit for over 18 months now after seeing her perform at an acoustic show at the Yardbird in Birmingham. As a result I was pretty sure that I was going to see a good performance and the talented frontwoman and her band certainly didn’t disappoint. From her opening gambit of “Let’s get you fuckers to the front!” Detroit had the audience in the palm of her hand. Completely (You Fuck Me Up) made a suitably rousing early appearance before the band slid into current single Point Of You. Detroit’s vocal is generally smooth as silk but with an ability to switch on a layer of grungy badassery when required. (Yes, I know ‘badassery’ isn’t a word but just work with me) The pace slowed and the performance stripped back with the arrival of a couple of female backing singers for Save You Last Goodbye, a brilliantly gentle effort. Emily, Detroit’s answer to Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon followed before the rock was ramped back up for Adelaide and closer Roses.

Each song that went by was greeted more warmly than the one before it as Detroit and her band delivered a nigh on note perfect performance. Her sound wandered from Fleetwood Mac style soft rock to Nirvana-esque grunge without missing a beat and those in attendance were more than happy to go along for the ride. It was a great performance and I knew that as I headed out into the cold Birmingham night those around me certainly agreed.

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