The Last Shadow Puppets, Hammersmith Apollo, 26/10/08
The Last Shadow Puppets brought their excellent album The Age of the Understatement to London tonight. I had seen LSP at Glastonbury in the summer and had been rather underwhlemed, as they played an acoustic set to a packed Park Stage crowd. On this tour however they were playing with a full orchestra, meaning the sound would be more faithful to the album.
What a sound as well. Beginning with In My Room, with its sweeping John Barry-like violins and errie organ, it was already apparent that this was going to be a special gig. The sound was excellent, with the band (Turner and Kane on guitar plus bass, drums and keyboard) sounding fine. Next up was The Age of the Understatement, a song I'm not too keen on from the album but which was great live, all pounding drums and trumpets.
Alex Turner and Miles Kane looked sharp in sixties slim-fit suits, and the stage and lighting was also retro, with ruffled curtains, soft spotlights and lots of reds and blues. They played the whole of the album, the highlights being largely the slower songs such as the superb My Mistakes Were Made For You, and a tender version of The Time Has Come Again, which Turner dedicated to his gran. Although I Don't Like You Anymore featured some great dramatic pauses and some superb sound affects.For the first half of the concert I was struck by how much stronger Miles Kane's voice was than Turner's, although towards the end Alex's voice came to the fore, particularly on the closing song, a powerful, driving version of Standing Next to Me.
The set was padded out with a few B side and a couple of new songs, and an excellent cover of the Beatles' I Want You (She's so Heavy), but the full attention of the crowd was held throughout. Everyone realised this was somethign special, far more ambitious and exciting than your average indie gig. The doubters say this side project is nothing new, with its huge debt to Scott Walker, but the Last Shadow Puppets have never denied his influence. What we have is a uperb album and a live experience that comes close to being the gig of the year, original or not. Whereas other bands resort to plagiarism when they are spent, at 22 Alex Turner is making brave decisions and showing he has plenty of ideas left.