Carling Academy Islington, February 5th

The order of tonight's gig was supposed to be decided on the toss of a coin, with the winner choosing wether to go on first or second. Now, APPARENTLY, Hundred Reasons won the toss, but elected to play first. This was either a very wise, and completely realistic decision on their part, or, as most people suspected, it had already been decided that this would be how it would go down. Had they gone on after Lost Prophets they may well have appeared as nothing more than pretenders to the crown.

As it is, their take on emo goes down well with the enthusiastic (but very small) moshpit, whilst the majority of the crowd either watch on, mildly interested, or prop up the bar. There are some outstanding moments - opener "If I Could" and obvious-hit-in-waiting "Lullaby", hit all the right targets square between the eyes. But none of the other songs catch my ear, and soon after they leave the stage, the opening riff of "Just Because" by Jane's Addiction come over the PA and their shortcomings become even more obvious.

After the runaway success of "Fakesoundofprogress" Lost Prophets have a lot to prove with new album "Start Something". Tearing into "We Still Kill The Old Way", it's obvious they are here to blow away any doubts that they could deliver. The song loses nothing in the translation from slickly produced first-track-on-the-album to perfect set-opener. If anything, it's like watching a caged animal unleashed and rampaging through it's natural habitat for the first time.

Earlier in the evening, the on-stage dynamics of Hundred Reasons seemed contrived and clumsy, but Lost Prophets have it down to a fine art. Singer Ian Watkins, lead guitarist Lee Gaze and Jamie Oliver on keyboards, regularly explode into the air in perfect sychronisation. This is the one abiding memory I have from when I saw the band a couple of years ago - just how kinetic they are.

From start to finish the set is flawless. Ian's voice has developed into a near perfect version of Faith No More's Mike Patton (at his least "quirky") and the musical machinery has been tweaked and fine-tuned into the sort of streetfighter more than capable of taking on anything Linkin Park could field. Storming new tracks "Burn Burn" and "Last Train Home" sit perfectly alongside old favourites such as "Fake Sound Of Progress" and a suprising cover version of Justin Timberlakes "Cry Me A River".

This is a warm-up gig. Watch out America, Lost Prophets are going to be unstoppable after a few months on the road.

Tonight's score? The Valleys 5 - Surrey 2.

Richy [ February9th, 2004 ]

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