It’s early doors at the Electric Ballroom tonight, and at twenty past seven, already a band are onstage. What looks like an 80s version of Buddy Holly (thick glasses, short dark hair, white shirt, overcoat, braces) is boldly singing in a strong baritone voice to a small group of The Vaccines’ most eager fans.
Amongst them, impressively enough, are The Vaccines themselves – and they’re loving it. Lead singer, Justin Young, holds his phone high to video Spector’s performance while the others grin enthusiastically.
It’s easy to see why. Spector’s frontman, who turns out to be Frederick Blood-Royale of Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man., has the kind of supreme confidence and expressive singing voice that projects a truly captivating charisma.
And the music is of serious quality, taking the few decent elements of 80s music and whacking them together to make something well worth turning up early for.
Frederick‘s upbeat take on low, Joy Division-style singing is echoed with smile-inducing ‘lalala’ backing vocals.
Tracks like Chevy Thunder have a strong sense of melody, with chanting choruses backed by a heavy wall of guitars.
Spector are a band of entertainers. Towards the end of the set the lights go out and a spotlight falls on the guitarist, who proceeds to play a self-indulgent solo. The point, it seems, is to fondly laugh at the 80s. It’s nostalgia, but it’s got a sense of humour.
What happens next does not. The Vaccines have gone backstage for this one, and with good reason.
AJ Denning, frontman of The Caezers, strides onstage in white-jacketed suit and rests his foot on top of a monitor in a bizarre ploy to draw attention to his crotch. He is joined by a guitarist, a drummer and a double bass player, and every one of them has slicked-back hair.
Unfortunately, their music matches their outfits, and they take it painfully seriously. Four-to-the-floor rhythms, high-pitched, 50s-style guitars and an adopted Deep South accent: this is an Elvis cover band.
Spector proved nostalgia could be fun, but The Caezers are stuck in a time capsule. Everything they do is a carbon copy of Elvis and his Sun Records labelmates.
One song sounds exactly like Hound Dog, with different lyrics; another, a bit like Blue Suede Shoes. On occasion AJ even attempts that hip shaking, leg twitching dancing. Now it’s just embarrassing.
The audience are hardly impressed. Everybody likes a bit of Elvis, but this is a step too far.
We knew guitar music was back, but does it need to go this far back?