Back in 2004, I actually went out and bought Athlete’s first album, Vehicles & Animals. It was pretty decent. Okay, it was a bit MOR, a bit ‘nice’, a bit like stuff we’re used to from the likes of Coldplay and Snow Patrol but all round it wasn’t a bad record. Catchy innocent guitar pop music. Nothing wrong with that. Now, that was 5 years ago and I must confess I’ve not really listened to much they’ve released since. Certainly nothing since Wires. Because of this I was intrigued to see how they had progressed, and what their live setup would be.
Last night’s xFM Live Session show was one of those ‘competition winners’ and invite deals. You know the sort..with branding everywhere and people getting jolly with drinks tokens. The usual procedure, more about sponsorship and PR than actual music. It’s the wrong way round but hey, music needs money and these kind of events are a necessary evil. (Just like Domino need the money from The Arctic Monkeys so they can release great music by the likes of Clearlake and Psapp).
The venue was busy (though not as busy as other shows at the recently re-vamped Band on The Wall) and Athlete came to the stage at around 8.30. They played for roughly an hour, with a set comprising of a nice selection of old and new stuff. They were pretty much as I expected; very polite, friendly, innocent sounding and inoffensive. Their music is good, they can definitely write songs but I just found it very hard to get excited about what they do. Even when the singer brought out a large bass drum and started bashing the hell out of it onstage, I couldn’t help but feel that rather than for any kind of music intention, this was just a gimmick to try and wake up the audience.
Athlete are a group of undoubtedly talented musicians with the ability to write good songs..but they just need a bit of energy to really captivate their audience, or run the risk of turning into the next Coldplay. And one of those is already way, way more than enough.