We went to check out Aberdonian 'distorted pop' trio The Xcerts in the tiny Black Heart pub in Camden for the sweatiest gig of the year so far. Here’s what went down...
The Xcerts, live in London
Venue: The Black Heart
Support: The Darling Buds
Film stars still have a way to go before they can convince as rock stars
It’s well documented that actors who fancy themselves as rock starts can produce some awful music. The Darling Buds, featuring Jamie Campbell Bower of Twilight/Harry Potter fame don’t quite fall into the category of awful, but there’s still something that feels a bit contrived about the whole affair as they open for The Xcerts. Their shouty rock sees Campbell Bower doing his best Brian Molko impression throughout, whilst his attempt to get the front row clapping finally confirms that Twilight fans absolutely cannot clap in time. Solid songs Venice and Dragon’s Are Real, You’ll Have To Believe Me show that not all hope is lost, but they’ve got a fair way to go before their fans consist of more than star struck teenagers.
It’s good to have The Xcerts back
By the time The Xcerts are ready to take the stage, the upstairs of The Black Heart has turned into a beery, sweaty sauna. Approaching the microphone with a wry smile, vocalist/guitarist Murray Macleod leads the trio, featuring bassist Jordan Smith and drummer Tom Heron straight into Cool Ethan. The three musicians are as tight as can be from relentless touring over the past decade, displayed perfectly on the groove-filled rocker Scatterbrain. They then treat us to two golden oldies in the form of Do You Feel Safe? and the rarely outed I See Things Differently. A cracking start to proceedings and one which the lucky attendees lap up.
Their new material will be worth the wait
Explaining that the new album will be out in October, the band then launch into Pop Song, a new track full of life that plays up to their ‘distorted pop’ moniker, cascading out of the speakers with a whirlwind chorus. The subtleties found on He Sinks, He Sleeps are given further power live via Macleod’s ethereal vocals, while he is joined by the clearly devoted audience to sing favourites Crisis in the Slow Lane, Carnival Time and Gum.
“It’s really bloody hot in here!”
Generally at gigs it’s the band complaining about how hot it is, but when everyone around you is completely drenched in sweat and your glasses start steaming up to the point where you can’t really see, you know it’s just definitely too hot. Good old summer gigs, eh? Thankfully, The Xcerts are on hand to dish out their own supply of rider water, as if this crowd didn’t already love them enough. Macleod then takes the stage solo to perform a spine-tingling Aberdeen 1987, with the backing of the entire audience for the chorus. The look in his eyes and the eyes of his fellow band mates as the song finishes lets on that they are pretty taken aback by the reaction of the crowd.
The Xcerts could be on the verge of something huge
If Pop Song is a small indication of how strong The Xcerts’ new material will be, then new single Shaking in the Water is a full-blown confirmation. Having only been posted online hours early, the faithful are already singing every word. Slackerpop finishes off a set that proves The Xcerts absolutely have what it takes to step it up to the next level and duly receive some of the praise that has been ladled upon their Scottish contemporaries up to this point.