Monday, 13 June 2011

Thomas Tantrum live at Night and Day, Manchester, June 11th 2011

Thomas Tantrum, fronted by the eponymous Megan Thomas, released their second album Mad By Moonlight this weekend and the select few discerning enough to be at Night and Day in Manchester on Saturday night were among the first with the chance to get their hands on it.

We reviewed the album at the start of the month and headed down to the venue to see if the Southampton group's live performance could live up to the 85 per cent Mad By Moonlight scored in our assessment.

The Playbill

While Thomas Tantrum were clearly the headline act, the evening was actually well underway when we got there. Answers on a Postcard seemed to do a good job of keeping an as-yet-not-drunk audience enthused with an energetic set - we caught their last few tracks and I'd have been happy to hear more.

Next up, the Reveres. These guys were good too, with a guitar-heavy set that kept the pace up. Night and Day was far from packed for some reason, which made the comings and goings of the crowd easier to see. That being said, I'm fairly confident that the movements during the Reveres' set were mostly just people going for a smoke, rather than leaving.

Thirdly came The Logicals. For me and POPSICULTURE collaborator Dan, I think we're agreed that this was the only real mismatch of the night. The set opened with a gothic rock number that ended on a sustained guitar note which looped directly into the opening of track two. The first song wasn't really in keeping with any of the other support acts, or with the rest of The Logicals' set, and I think it's fair to say the crowd were thrown slightly off-balance. That being said, The Logicals weren't bad, they just seemed out of place - I'd like to see them perform in the correct line-up and see if they get a better audience response.

The Main Event

Having reviewed Thomas Tantrum's new album, Mad By Moonlight, only last week, I have to admit that I haven't had chance yet to track down their other work and get to know the earlier songs. That meant that as Megan Thomas and her cohort took to the stage, we were in the unusual position of knowing the tracks the committed fans hadn't heard yet, while not knowing the ones from the first album that everyone else there knew and loved.

Either way, the set list was well managed, with a selection of songs I did and didn't recognise. For the Mad By Moonlight tracks, I can honestly say I was even more impressed by the live performance than by the recorded versions on the album.

Megan Thomas somehow injects as much ease into her live act as into her laid-back vocals on the CD. It must actually take quite a lot of effort, because there's no way you could claim that her vocals are weak, they're simply cast into the audible ether in a way that is really, really engaging to watch and hear.

The Verdict

Aside from the slightly miscast presence of The Logicals in a line-up that wasn't really ideal for their sound, the night as a whole was really enjoyable and the music was of a high standard.

Thomas Tantrum in particular were every bit as good live as they are on the incredible new album. If anything, I would have preferred fewer support acts and an extra Thomas Tantrum set - just as everything was coming together nicely and the crowd really getting into the music, it was time to finish already.

However, the old adage says you should always leave them wanting more, and it's no criticism to say that I would have loved to stay all night if the crowd had been large enough to demand encores.

For the future, hopefully Thomas Tantrum will get the recognition they deserve so their next tour can take in larger venues and larger crowds - if their future releases continue in the vein of Mad By Moonlight, it wouldn't surprise me at all.


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