For those of you not familiar with Citizens! the nostalgic, stomping, indie-disco number (I’m in love with your) Girlfriend,is a Trivial Pursuits Beat of the Week from back in September. I’ve linked to the song rather than the blog itself because firstly, it’s not very helpful other than pointing out the tune and comparing them with other bands with quirky symbols in their name and secondly, I can’t be arsed to find it.
Citizens! consist of the floppy haired, floral-shirted frontman, Tom Burke, and in an interview with Hooting and Howling, he describes the others: “there’s Mike [drummer & vocals] – he is the electro Errol Flynn. Thom [guitars & vocals], who spells his name with an ‘h’, because he’s highbrow. Martyn [bass] is the thinking man’s Dion Dublin. Lawrence [keyboard & synth], er…what’s Lawrence? He’s the disco Leo Sayer.”
I took a few pals to go and see them at one of the latest additions to the London club/gig venue scene, XOYO [incidentally pron. X. O. Y. O. not Zoy-yo as I thought it might be…] just round the corner from Old Street Tube. And, without feeling too claustrophobic, a fun, intimate little venue it is too. You can have a drink beforehand in its sister-bar – the street art decorated, Shoreditch Butchery, which looked quite cool but we were running short on time so headed straight down to the underground venue itself.
Citizens! have had a fairly decent year by all standards, forming in the backend of last year and being taken on by Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos as producer on their debut album, ‘Here We Are’. They now find themselves midway through a world tour that has seen them play in North America, Europe and soon South-East Asia. There’s undeniably a bit of a Franz-style pop-rock campness to their sound, although, a few tracks aside, they are less bass-driven and focus more on Burke’s almost edible vocals.
If XOYO was anything to go by, Citizens! are an entertaining live act. There’s a danger with new bands that the show becomes a simple debut album playback, but a new tune coupled with a cover of Everything But The Girl’s Missing went down well.
During the start of Love You More the entire band rhythmically beat seven shades out of anything that makes a remotely percussive sound, before returning to their instruments for the remainder of the song.
The charismatic Burke engaged well with the audience, jumping in with them at one point during the dark-versed/light-chorused Reptile. He introduced True Romance by saying, “If you haven’t heard of this one I don’t know what you’re doing here”, which might have been a touch arrogant at this stage of the band’s lifespan but an excellent song it is, so I shall let him off.
After this the five-piece left the stage returning moments later for the obligatory encore where they wrapped up proceedings with an energetic rendition Girlfriend, which they visibly appeared to enjoy playing more than their other songs. I think if they produced more indie-disco songs like this their rise to recognition would be far quicker, but perhaps deep down they consider it a little too tongue-in-cheek. Anyway, they certainly enjoyed playing it.
By Edward Lines