The Sunshine Underground, The Venue, Derby, 29.10.15

Reviewed by James Lavender

There are many indie bands out there who plug away and have a loyal fan-base to support them at every gig. These are the ones who are in it for the music and nothing more. The Sunshine Underground are one of them. Constantly touring, they have a new album coming out next year.

Supporting them were another couple of young bands with laddish swagger. The first was Castro, a local Derby band. This was the first time I had listened to them, and I felt that they had an uninspiring start, they sounded like they had mashed Kasabian together with The Strokes, but managed to sound like neither. However, they got into their stride with their final song ‘Glass Hearts’, which proved to be a very skillful tune.

Next up were The Swines, with their modish, Rhythm’n’Blues sound clearly hitting a chord with the audience, most of whom were up and bouncing around. There is something familiar and reassuring about frontman Scott’s stage presence; soulful, yet ballsy. Later do I found out that is in fact Jake Bugg’s cousin, although Scott Bugg’s band have been gigging across the East Midlands a lot longer than Jake Bugg.  Their sound is based around the early Arctic Monkey’s with a bit of Britpop thrown in the mix. They really excel with blues numbers, such as ‘Love Is Blind’, although there are some rock-based tunes such as ‘Back of your Mind’ and ‘Stonefaced’ which perfectly round off the set.

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So onto the main act. The Sunshine Underground have such a devoted fan-base and you can see why when they perform. They have anthemic tunes, such as ‘Commercial Breakdown’ and the hugely popular ‘Borders’ which can go down well in music clubs as well as in arenas. The band have expanded their original sounds, experimenting in dance music on their self-titled last album. ‘Start’ being an appropriate song to get people dancing and roaring to go. Then they get into the popular anthems like ‘Borders’ which have everyone singing along. In terms of stage presence and audience interaction, they possess boyish charm, teasing one another on stage and getting the audience to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to lead singer Craig. The rest of the set is dominated by the electro-rock tunes such as ‘Nightlife’ and the synth-heavy ‘Nothing To Fear’. Whilst they have a talent for getting audiences going, they also have a soft spot which is demonstrated in songs such as ‘It Is Only You’. The intimacy of this song perfectly matches the feeling of the gig as a special moment between a band and their loyal fanbase.

4 out of 5

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