Elliot Minor

support The Hot Melts
author AP date 10/10/08 venue University, Southampton, UK

Looking at the queue of under-eighteens stretching back like a long, red and black serpent from Garden Court's entrance, one thing stands clear: Elliot Minor say all the right things to make the hearts of little girls melt. And I'm not talking about your usual seventeen year-old scenesters; no, a large portion of this band's clientèle seems to consist of kids. Kids who praise the likes of My Chemical Romance but find the underground tones of the scene far too extreme. Unfortunately their presence, and the fact that their parents are there to chaperon them, means that security has been upped to a zero-tolerance policy towards moshing and the like. Not that it matters to most, considering that the bands tonight don't exactly sport brutal breakdowns.

The Hot Melts

When these Liverpool powerpoppers start their set, I'm convinced there's no better band to soften up the crowd to Elliot Minor. It's half an hour of soft and sentimental singing spiced up with some odd screams here and there, with no surprises. It's not that the performance itself is bad, but some of the songs are just hard to swallow, with some of the cheesiest background singing I've heard to date. Think "Oh la la la", "Pop pah, pop pah" and "Whoaaoo Whoaaoo" in just about every song. It seems to push the right buttons with the younger members of the crowd though, what with their sporadic jumping and clapping. But looking at the show from a purely critical perspective, there isn't much here to rave about: a standard, premeditated stage presence and stereotypical, uninspiring songs. Half-assed supporting acts are beginning to look like the trend at this venue.


Elliot Minor

Watching Elliot Minor for the second time now, albeit them headlining this time around, it's hard not to notice the tremendous progress they have made in just half a year. At the same time they've moved towards the kind of crowd-pleasing pop stardom that bands like Simple Plan and Panic At The Disco enjoy, particularly in the UK, and particularly among the younger demographic. Consequently their show is riddled with standard crowd participation routines like arm waving and hand clapping that steal something from the band's authenticity, but which may seem novel and cool to first-timers - and in this case I'll let it pass because the atmosphere in the room top notch, what with singing along and jumping, and even a moshpit until our overcompensating security staff eject who they can from it and ask them to leave the venue.

Fortunately there's little they can do when vocalists Alex and Ed call for a circle pit to one of their faster pop punk songs. It's these songs that really sink in the crowd, but for once I find myself liking even the acoustic duo performance, shamelessly aimed at the screaming girls in the crowd. Maybe it's because Alex and Ed's classically trained vocals are beyond impressive and the way the two complement each other in a lead-vocal duo is consistently interesting. Ali's synths and keyboard melodies play their part in it too, as does the crystal clear sound for which the Garden Court is famous. It's not often that music in this genre features so many levels, but Elliot Minor are skilled song smiths. At one moment I find myself shifting my focus from the Tim Burtonisque piano rolls to the surprisingly tight drumming, and in another from admiring at how the singers use their voices as an instrument more than their guitars to how well the overall package works.

If there's one thing to complain about though, it's that the band takes as much time not playing as they do playing. Fair enough, they've got one album to work with, but why not settle for a shorter set then? When there's time for Dan to step down from behind his drum kit more than just once to have a chat with the crowd, and for the band to pull some obvious, planned gimmick like sending Ali to the loo and the rest of the band hiding in the crowd to see if he notices, the set is most definitely too long. Some salvation is brought by spicing things up with some neat things like playing some notes from Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City" and Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" in the middle of a riff without them sounding out of place or even strange. Not to mention parts of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", which Alex performs flawlessly. Fortunately they also pull an excellent encore out of their sleeves, playing the much awaited radio hit "Jessica" to wrap things up for the night. All in all a good, consistently enjoyable concert that could have benefited from less talking and more music.

Photos courtesy of Martin Foot

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