Lets Talk Tactics

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author PP date 28/04/08 venue Surrey University, Guildford, UK

One of the hardest things to do as a music journalist is to review something written, played, or produced by someone you know. Whether it's someone close to you or someone you have met just a few times, it's always difficult to stay objective, because who doesn't want to help out their friends in any way possible? As if it wasn't difficult enough that I'm friends with pretty much everyone in Lets Talk Tactics, tonight was also their first show ever, a short showcase set played at our home university intended for the band's closest friends, supporters and some record label/promo people who are currently showing interest to the band. They were given thirty minutes of stage time as the opening act, before first support band Beggars and headliners Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong, but to be frank, neither one of those bands are of any interest to anyone reading this zine, so I figured I'd best drop them and focus on Lets Talk Tactics only, even though that makes for a shorter review. Here goes.

Lets Talk Tactics

Anyway, after some delay at the doors caused by Joe Lean showing up late and using much longer than expected on their sound check, people were let in the venue. The first thing to note is the insanely good turn out that the band had received tonight. Having expected only a few handfuls of people, there were definitely over a hundred people occupying the area in front of the stage, if not more. I think this caught the band off guard as well, or at least I was told they hadn't expected this many people to turn out. But hey, all the better with more people right? Sooner than later the electronic introduction drew people closer to the stage from the bars around the venue, and the band hopped on stage, launching straight into their electro/indie/pop punk track "Fortune Favors The Bold", a perfect opening track live, if you ask me, as it has the Lets Talk Tactics sound in a nutshell: massive electronic soundscape supported by samples/synths, innovative riffs, great vocal work, and fantastic drumming.

Before seeing the band live I wasn't sure which part would come across as the strongest, but by the end of the song I wasn't in doubt. With a crowd who actually had listened to the songs more than just a couple of times before the show, the long electronic bit in the song would've easily caused a frenzy of glowsticks and frantic dancing across the venue, and I'm looking forward to a future date when these guys are slightly bigger - it'll be just like witnessing an Enter Shikari show. You know the deal, you see the entire crowd moving in unison, only in opposing directions, sure to bring cold chills down your back and induce yourself to join in the fun. Don't believe me? Go watch Enter Shikari at Roskilde Festival this year.

In terms of stage performance, I must say the band looked awfully nervous in the start. But can you blame them, this being their first show and all? Especially banter in-between the songs was shaky at best, but this I'm sure will improve as the band starts touring properly. They weren't given much space to move while playing either, thank Joe Lean's instruments that were already set up on the stage, blocking almost 3/4 of the stage. However, this allowed (forced?) the band to have an interesting stage set up, with the drummer all the way in the front-right, electronics dude at the back, and the free-roaming guys around the centre of the stage. While that might sound odd at first and probably wasn't intended by the band, it works wonders for them, and this is solely because the band's drummer Gary (ex-Fastlane) is incredibly good at his job. He nailed his passages spot on even in sections where I had expected the band to use some sort of backing track because on record, the drums sound like they're either a) too fast or b) too difficult to play live. Understandably most eyes were fixated on his performance during these bits.

"Heroes Fall Hardest" was the song I was most intrigued to hear live, considering how monumentally big it sounds on record. The only way to do the song justice would be to have it echo around the venue, encompassing everyone fully into the sound, but unfortunately because of the shitty sound quality and the venue, their (arguably?) strongest song ended up being the weakest one tonight (the bigger winner was Ignite). Thank Joe Lean for that boys & girls. But the band more than made up for it just before with "Ignite", the unreleased song, which is sure to have a massive singalong at every show once it's released - at least I couldn't resist singing along to the chorus even if I was the only one doing so.

The band finished their set with "The Getaway" as expected. Aaron pulled out his world war 2 megaphone once again towards the end of the song (previously seen during "Fortune..."), rushing off the stage to shout-scream the chaotic bits of the last part of the song against the barrier into the crowd. The rest of the band seemed like on ecstacy by this point, moving around the stage frantically adding to the "grand finale" feel of the song - a great ending for the show. The performance of "The Getaway" alone is worthy enough to warrant a 9 mark, and if the band will be able to pull off similar stunts throughout their set and put the crowd into a trance like they did then, well, there are some very good things heading towards this band.

In the end, this was their career-first show, and taking that into account, I don't think anyone can disagree that the band did a pretty good job. The band looked their best during the simulatenous jumps of the rock'n'roll bits and the dance-floor initiating electronic bits, and if they can somehow transform the 'feel' of those parts to the remainder of their show, I don't see why they won't jump up in our rating scale for the next time. Now buy me a beer for saying that!


  • 1. Intro
  • 2. Fortune Favours The Bold
  • 3. Ignite
  • 4. Heroes Fall Hardest
  • 5. It May Already Be Too Late
  • 6. The Getaway

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