Think Tank is sparsely populated tonight. One wonders if the dubious lure of Lucha Libre wresting down the road at Boilershop has had a negative effect on the turnout for The LaFontaines’ Newcastle leg of their tour.
As front-man Kerr Okan mentions later, they’ve played Newcastle a number of times in the past and the small crowd that has turned up are clearly hardcore fans of this hugely likeable Glasgow five piece.
Readers of this blog may have seen our recent review of their début album (released this week – review can be read here) where we expected that their songs would translate incredibly well to the live environment and it’s absolutely the case. Any worries that the punter deficit might dull the performance are completely unfounded as the extended intro to the huge ‘King’ serves as the band’s walk on music before they blast into it properly. An insistent, twanging rush of energy is the perfect number to announce their arrival before diving headlong into single ‘Under the Storm’.
It’s at this point you realise that alongside Okan’s boy-band looks and flowing raps, a large part of The LaFontaine’s sound comes from bass playing singer John Gerrard. He looks unassuming and dishevelled – a grown up Frankie Muniz who’s been out partying all night and found himself locked out in the rain – but Christ, this boy can sing. From a band that already has a massive rock sound, the soulful backing vocals just make everything bigger. Indeed, if you close your eyes and imagine you’re not in a small venue; you know that this band have the hands to fill whichever festival gloves you try to make fit.
Before sample laden bouncer ‘Pont Le Fonts’ gets underway, the crowd are implored to crouch down low before the music encourages them to erupt. It’s a small party but aren’t these often the most memorable? When Okan takes the time out to give thumbs up and speak to members of the crowd individually in between songs and exchange jokes with them; you’re not just at a gig, you’re part of it. You’re invested and important and that’s pretty great really.
Finishing off with ‘Sharks in the Water’ and walking off to loud applause, a lone voice shouts for an encore. The drummer laughs and shrugs his shoulders. They deserved more than this. I hope the Mexican wrestling was worth it, Newcastle. You missed a treat.
Reviewer and Photographer: Nick Wesson