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Falling for Longview at London's ULU


Story: Jack Foley

IT'S always an exciting prospect going to see an emerging band with a good vibe surrounding them.

I was lucky enough to catch Oasis when they played The Old Trout, in Windsor, and Blur, just before the release of their first album, in north London.

Longview are another of those bands whose early work suggests great things; so it was great to be able to see whether they started to fulfil any of their potential at ULU on July 31.

And, true to current form, the Manchester-based foursome did enough to justify the vibe surrounding them, with a tight set that provided the perfect showcase for their sprawling guitars and melancholy, yet uplifting, vocals.

Singer/songwriter, Rob McVey may look more like a Californian surfer dude, who belongs in a US grunge band, yet he has that one thing that most frontmen need - presence.

He may lack the attitude of a Gallagher, or the infectious enthusiasm of a Chris Martin, but he commands attention, clearly devoted to his music and giving it the undivided attention it deserves. The sell-out crowd seemed to think so too, as there was very little sign of restlessness among them.

And in style and structure, many of the band's songs lend themselves better to being performed live, than they do in mere album form.

Tracks such as Falling Without You, This Is and If You Asked build well into the sort of anthemic rock outs reserved for the best bands, and don't seem as slow.

McVey says he owes a lot in inspiration to the likes of Doves, Coldplay and even Radiohead, yet there is also an element of Embrace about them, which they might do well to steer clear of.

McVey's tender vocals, in particular, evoke such comparisons, particularly during the slower numbers, yet there is plenty to suggest that, given a second album, Longview will emerge with a rich and varied showcase.

Hence, rockier moments, such as the genuinely feelgood When You Sleep, allow the band to really let go, and provide the crowd with one of those spine-tingling moments when you know you're seeing something a little bit special.

Likewise, Further, the current single, which had to provide the highlight of the night - building to its crescendo of guitars and really making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. It was a terrific way to end the first act, and was greeted with a rousing cheer from the crowd.

Of the album's highlights, the stand out track, Falling For You, got a little lost under the weight of its own invention.

The track has to rate among the finest I have heard from any band this year, with its shimmering guitars and beautiful female vocals, midway through. It arrives like a wistful daydream of a song halfway through the album, so you can imagine my excitement when a female singer appeared at the back of the stage for the track to begin.

Sadly, her vocals seemed to get drowned amid the guitars and McVey's own vocals, which was a real shame; although the track itself remained strong enough, and enchanting enough, to stand on its own and could well emerge as a future single.

Another of the album's high points, however, was expertly delivered, with Can't Explain surely destined to bring out the lighters at future performances (its chorus, of 'waiting for hours, hours turn to days, days turn to years, I'm still here' certain to have the lovers among the crowds drooling).

It's fair to say that Longview specialise in the moody epics, with their forlorn lyrics ideal for listening to on a lazy Sunday afternoon - yet their ability lies in the way in which they can still make such material sound feelgood and inspiring.

But at ULU, they also demonstrated that they have enough in their artillery not to become pigeon-holed too early, looking equally at ease among the rockier numbers as they did when playing the slow-builders.

I'm already looking forward to seeing how they progress, and to catching up with them when they return to London. And I would suggest you do the same, as the evidence suggests they won't be playing intimate gigs for too much longer.

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