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South: Caugt live at Islington Academy (April 2004)


Review: Simon Pinion

WITH a new single generating some decent air-play, and their latest album receiving widespread acclaim, South delivered a blistering reminder of their over-looked talents at a packed Islington Academy on Wednesday night (April 7, 2004).

It had been some time since they last took the capital by storm, at 93 Feet East last July, but with contract wrangles behind them, the time could just be right to propel Joel Cadbury and co into the limelight.

As ever, they provided a tight, enjoyable set, the majority of which took in tracks from the new album, With The Tides, as well as some choice reminders from their Mowax-produced debut, and, of course, their favourite cover version of Ian Brown’s Dolphins Were Monkeys remix.

Throughout, the drums and guitars of Brett Shaw and Jamie McDonald remained as explosive as ever, perfectly complimenting Cadbury’s laidback vocal style, without ever drowning it out.

Musically, the band is exceptional, with all three members capable of mixing things up a little, and perfectly comfortable with swapping positions.

And it is the rich variety of drum beats, guitar riffs and sweeping melodies that prompted one recent critic to label them ‘as the only British band not currently trying to emulate Coldplay’.

In current single, Colours in Waves, they hint at it (thanks to the simplistic guitar hooks), but South are fast becoming the masters of the hopelessly catchy, yet equally intelligent, three-minute indie-pop record that has been the meal ticket to success for so many lesser bands.

Take Loosen Your Hold, for example, which was released last year, and featured some sublime banjo. I have yet to see it performed live with that instrument, yet the guitars which replaced it were equally as formidable.

Fragile Day is another terrific record, which provided one of the night’s many highlights, having benefited from the production know-how of Dave Eringa (of Idlewild and Ash fame).

While that newfound confidence and maturity was aptly demonstrated during Straight Lines to Bad Lands, which was performed, post-encore, by Joel by himself, with only an acoustic guitar.

The band is more compact and more confident now, having matured dramatically through the ups and downs of their difficult Mowax departure, and the uncertainty of subsequent record labels.

The sweaty confines of the Islington Academy may have provided an ideal showcase for the rich layers their music produces, but you get the feeling - from the buzz surrounding them, and the diehard support - that they may be graduating to bigger venues in the very near future.

We would urge you to catch them when they’re in town again.

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