Originally posted on Hooting & Howling


In the back alleys of London’s finest, amidst the dark depths of Scala on Tuesday, Fierce Panda’s stellar 19th birthday celebrations went ahead in full force, headlined by The Crookes and backed up by the delights of The Heartbreaks and Hey Sholay – not bad for a tenner.

From the opening notes of ‘Wishbone’, Hey Sholay were bursting at the seams with energetic psychedelic pop sounds and jumping around the stage. The band paraded through the massive should-be hits of last September’s debut ‘((O))’ and for an early support, rose up as a hard act to follow. For an outfit that can cram such brilliance both into their blindingly brief live sets and within the songs they write, you can’t help but feel they should be headlining sold out shows themselves by now. Their entire sound reminisces the latest b-town delights, only better. Hey Sholay exist as a clever person’s Peace and they’re definitely onto something.

The Heartbreaks were next, and by the second track, the sense that everyone in the crowd had underestimated what they were capable of struck. They played a fearless, broad set of new tracks without a whisper of doubt and delving into the back catalogue a mere 3 times, one being a B-side on a Japanese release that had previously gone unnoticed by all – until the dulcet tones of Matt Whitehouse had won them over. The new material did not falter either, but certainly suggests a darker route than what was included on 2011’s ‘Funtimes’, reaching highs of classic 80s synth-fueled hair pop but always returning to the stunning jangle of guitars the band produce so effortlessly. A new unspoken guitarist too had been added to the shroud of mystery surrounding them that evening but, hailed by all, the band flounced offstage to the sing-along note of ‘I Didn’t Think It’d Hurt To Think Of You’, leaving everyone eagerly awaiting the new LP.

The Crookes are not a band that need a further pat on the back from anybody. They write incredible tracks, make brilliant albums and most importantly are a class above the rest live, and their knowledge of this is only revealed through the sheer enjoyment visible on their faces when doing so, naturally a factor that only improves matters. The band stormed onstage to impressive new single ‘Bear’s Blood’ and instigated a set of indisputably great dancing music.

For the hour, the band darted through material from albums ‘Hold Fast’, ‘Chasing After Ghosts’ and ‘Dreams Of Another Day’ EP in their usual raucous, but incredibly fun, manner and rolling out the never-ending genius of new pop. Only adding to the delights of the The Crookes live show was the fact that, accordingly with the strict unspoken rules of the band by this point, everyone in the jam-packed venue gladly accepted the aforementioned genius and went wild at any given opportunity. Even more sentimental tracks including ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’ and ‘Stars’ got the full dancing feet treatment, a feat to be admired if nothing else.

Brief breaks from the madness were granted in the forms of a stunned silence between George Waite’s cries that make for the band’s latest heart-wrencher ‘Dance In Colour’ and older tracks such as ‘Just Like Dreamers’, still sounding as quite so brilliant as it did back in 2010. However the short lived melancholy was soon broken once again, in favour of returning to the master guitar-fueled pop the band champion and they tore through more of the endless bona fide hits, with the final rendition of ‘Afterglow’ still firmly upholding its reputation as one of the best tracks of the past year, and disappeared offstage.

An encore in the form of a solo guitar rendition of ‘The I Love You Bridge’ and the ever-faithful ‘Yes, Yes We’re Magicians’ accompanied by a chorus of clicks rounded the show off fittingly and confirmed that The Crookes are still most definitely one of the best bands around today.

If Fierce Panda have achieved nothing else in 19 years (they have) , it’s giving the three aforementioned incredible bands a platform to excel such brilliance – especially all in one night – and that’s something that definitely deserved the top celebration it was given.