JOEY FRANCIS reviews Titus Andronicus at the Haymakers
Titus Andronicus, The Haymakers, 18th November, 7.30
For those who haven’t heard of them, Titus Andronicus are (loosely speaking) an indie-rock band, however, for the most part it would be equally appropriate to call them a trashy, lo-fi, punk band. They’re the kind of band whose live shows you’d often hear described as “raucous”.
And for the majority of the set, raucous they were. Within the confines of a small venue like The Haymakers, they were very loud. This is a good thing. The band put a lot of energy into their set, which, as frontman Patrick Stickles repeatedly told us, they were clearly enjoying. As is always the case, this in turn made the show exciting and extremely enjoyable to watch. Even Stickles’ crowd banter, often the awkward down-side of many an otherwise brilliant performance, was not passable, but actively funny, and this added to the general feeling that everyone was together, having a great time.
Bearing this in mind, the songs that worked best for me were the few hits played from their rawer, deliberately scrappier first album (and my personal favourite), 2008’s ‘The Airing of Grievances’, not just because I preferred them, but because I felt their energy translated more directly into everything that was best about their live show.
But of course, bands love to play their new material, and the majority of the set was made up of songs from ‘The Monitor’, released in March of this year, and it would be unfair to blame the band for that. This included a few tracks which were much slower and sparser than the band’s usual style, and these worked surprisingly well. Taking the emphasis away from shouted vocals, and loud guitars and drums, and placing it with the keyboard and guitarist Amy Klein’s electric violin, the effect was very different, but it was absorbing, and the melodies interesting. This occasional change in dynamics gave the whole set a feeling of balance.
One interesting thought to leave you with; when Stickles attempted to make a quip about Cambridge being a university town he was met with a mixture of ambivalence and hostility from the majority of the crowd, which probably included no more than half a dozen students, myself included. I was told earlier that the promoter, Green Mind, have a lot of trouble getting students to come to their gigs, despite punching above their weight for a town like Cambridge, booking bands like this, and upcoming gigs from the likes of Johnny Foreigner and The Joy Formidable. I would recommend that people pay Green Mind a little more attention.