Tubelord: Norwich Arts Centre, 6/1/12

2012 has seen Tubelord embark on a tour to support their latest album, Romance. Released two years after their debut, Our Fist American Friends, fans waited eagerly to see if the band had pulled off another brilliant collection of math rock. Touring a good two months after its release meant many had the chance to pick apart the gems and flaws alike. The crowd contained a good spread of typical Tubelord fans, some for the well known energetic performances, the rest attracted by lead singer Joe Prendergast’s songwriting.

Support came from local band Olympians, who gave a fantastic warm up performance, combining noodly guitar lines and abstract time signatures with elements of Norwich’s thriving shoegaze scene.

Rallying to a battle cry of ‘OK, let’s go on now’ Tubelord then trooped onstage and opened with the heavy and lively ‘Go Old’. At this point a slight shiver of disappointment ran through the crowd, as it became clear that Prendergast had unfortunately lost his voice. Nevertheless the set went on, with drummer David Catmur and keyboardist James Elliot Field providing flawless backing/stand-in vocals.

The four-piece from Kingston-upon-Thames blasted through Romance’s key tracks, with ‘Here Is Nothing’ and ‘4T3’ setting more than a few heads banging, before treating everyone to the highly anticipated ‘Stacey’s Left Arm’. The rendition of their early work really showed off just how good a song can be when played live – tight stabs and thrashy hardcore riffs hammered this home. Of the new work ‘My First Castle’ stands out as something that could take Tubelord further into the mainstream. With more of a dance-pop theme than anything they’ve ever written, it’s certainly catchy whilst remaining in the vein of their previous work.

A technically great set was rounded off with another classic, ‘Night of Pencils’, this time with audience participation aiding the limited vocal presence and proving how encouraging it is for Tubelord to have a growing and dedicated fanbase.

Catch Tubelord at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on 25/1/12.

Adam Flores