Flashguns, Pushing Hands, Lucy Rose & Bombay Bicycle Club DJs, The Lexington, 23 March 2011

By the looks of the crowd assembled here tonight, The Lexington is getting slack at checking IDs. Most of these kids look as though they’re about to embark on their GCSEs. But our first glimpse of Flashguns and main support, Pushing Hands, reveals them, too, to be about 18. It seems we are about to witness indie’s youngest new recruits in action.

Kicking off with a fresh breeze of youthful innocence is Lucy Rose. Her music is so quiet and gentle that people at the bar are whispering to order their drinks. She sings romantic love songs in an angelic, yet slightly husky voice (not dissimilar to Dido’s somewhat more depressing tones). Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, which she delicately plays palm-muted with her bare hands, her subtlety has the audience in raptures.

After a few moments of quiet, Bombay Bicycle Club’s DJ set bangs in a mixture of gleaming electro and pounding old school hip hop. It’s not quite what we were in the mood for after an act like that.

Pushing Hands, who appear to be friends with most of the youngsters here, begin their set after a chat with Bombay Bicycle Club in the DJ booth that seems to fill them with confidence. They appear at ease knowing there are fans in the room, and their enthusiasm comes across the uplifting sounds of their instruments on songs like Bully and Between Us Now.

There are approving nods from tonight’s DJs as they play the fast and upbeat I Don’t Want To Do – the lyrics for which fit the music like a glove.

They end it on Plus and Minus, which proves difficult to keep still to and has a sound close to Fools Gold, but rougher and with a much more British flavour.

Bombay Bicycle Club must have spotted the connection, as the next song they play is Fools Gold’s Surprise Hotel, before Kelis’ Millionaire marks the beginning of a run of dance-pop floor fillers. And the floor is filled.

Just as the dancing starts getting out of hand down the front, Flashguns swagger onstage with an almost arrogant level of confidence. They begin a run of new tracks with Come And See The Lights, which sets the tone for an evening of big, heavy, post-emo sort of rock. Their sound is very much post-punk, but lead singer, Sam Johnston, performs like The Undertones’ Feargal Sharkey.

Sam announces that he has Bronchitis, which saw their last few dates cancelled, making the strength of tone in tonight’s vocal performance even more impressive. If he hadn’t told us, we’d never have guessed. On new single, Passions Of A Different Kind, his face strains with feeling – or possibly pain – as he belts out the infectious chorus.

It’s clear that Sam is very much a frontman, dominating the stage and holding everyone’s attention as he dances, jerking side to side, and throws himself about. “And that’s how you do it,” he says at the end of the track, his ego very much on show.

Delving into their back catalogue, they play I Don’t Not Love You. The fans love it: singing and dancing along, arms round each other, like these are the anthems of their youth. The value of Sam’s easily decipherable voice becomes clear as the choruses provoke sing-alongs loud enough to drown him out.

“We’re a little bit deaf now,” says Sam at the end of the set, “and hopefully so are you”. But it’s not enough for the audience, who shout and chant until the band are forced back onstage for an encore. Flashguns must have something special here: this is the sort of reception you’d expect from a sold-out arena.

Each band was completely different from the last tonight, but if there’s one thing they had in common, it was a youthful spirit that simply oozed enthusiasm.


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