The Needles are one of those bands whose travails have done so much to destroy my faith in the music industry. It’s an absolute crime that, despite the fêting of many of their musically similar contemporaries (most notably the Futureheads), after five years they remain resolutely unsigned. The only logical conclusion I can make is that the “industry” still remembers Mick Hucknall of Simply Red infamy all too clearly and refuse to endorse any other band with a ginger singer.
Many bands in this position would either give up and go home, or simply stagnate. The Needles, on the other hand, have upped their ante considerably with some great new songs. We’re not talking average indie pub band going nowhere, but catchy, chart-capable three minute punk-pop blasts, evoking The Jam, Futureheads, Snuff and every other tight-harmonied punky band you can remember, but with piano (and not in a Wire way either). There are at least half a dozen songs here tonight that belong firmly on Top of the Pops rather than in the basement of The Dome.
Considering they’ve trekked down from Aberdeen for the show, it’s disappointing that more people haven’t come out tonight – the warm up band might well have put them off (the less I write about Italian rockers “Champagne Monroe” the better – think “Born to be Wild” in Italian, with a Mick Jagger-obsessed singer). Back with the main attraction, the Needles attack their way through some fifteen songs or so in a surprisingly short period of time. Although I would have loved to have heard some of the “classics” such as “The King and Queen of Style” or “We got the Soul”, there wasn’t a moment when the comparative security of older material would have been more desirable than the new.
New song “Summer of Cool” reminds you subtly of Status Quo’s “Down Down” but not in a bad way (if that’s possible). In a just world, this would be the song on the lips of school kids come the summer holidays this year. Instead, I am sure we will be doomed to another rapper boasting about how big his gun/car/motherfucking-i-i-ay is.
They’ve tightened up their image too – gone are (all but one of) the “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” t-shirts for which they were known, and the look is now Buddy Holly meets grunge. Every track here is a winner. As lead singer Dave shouts at the end of their set “The wise man is a Needles fan!” I concur.
Rumour has it you can see them again on the 16th Feb at On the Tracks in Old Street. Well worth a visit.