I’ve been a big fan of The Computers raucous, high energy live shows for the last couple of years ever since seeing them support The Duke Spirit in Newcastle in May 2011. I was so impressed with this first gig that I went to see Hot Snakes at Newcastle in December 2011 just to see The Computers supporting them. As luck would have it Hot Snakes were excellent as well so that was a great gig. When The Computers were announced as support for the Pulled Apart By Horses tour in February 2012 I was rubbing my hands together in anticipation. It was off to Carlisle for a pre tour warm up gig before catching the tour in Newcastle and Sheffield. This tour was superb, the Carlisle and Newcastle shows making it into my top 10 gigs of 2012.
So it is with more than a little trepidation that I’m making my way to Carlisle (again) to see them on the Love Triangles, Hate Squares tour after an apparent major change of musical direction. I’ve resisted the temptation to listen to the new CD before going to the gig so I can try to make an unbiased judgement on the night.
At about 10:30 The Computers take to the stage. The white outfits of previous tours have gone to be replaced by dark maroon suits as has the black fronted bass drum with ‘The Computers’ written across the top. It’s been replaced by a nice new shiny white one.
They launch straight into Bring me the head of a hipster, they hadn’t even got half way through the song and Al had taken up position with one foot on the stage and the other on the barrier, doing the splits over a 2+ foot wide gap that he maintained right until Rhythm Revue, three songs later. During the intro to the second song, Love Triangles, Hate Squares Al introduces the band, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen – We are the Mother Fucking Computers!’ Next up it’s straight into Mr Saturday Night which runs straight into a track from their first CD, Rhythm Revue. Al decides it’s now about time he went into the crowd so he jumps from the barrier down onto the dance floor (with guitar) and starts playing and singing at the back of the room. This was the first of four excursions into the audience and was classic The Computers. Rhythm Revue then morphs into a blistering version of surfin bird, and it’s back onstage and straight into Selina Chinese without pausing for breath. The band take a bit of a breather during the intro to Nothing to Say then it’s straight into the excellent Disco Sucks followed by Call on You! which sees Al back in the audience again.
Last song of the main set is Music Is Dead with Al back in the audience yet again, splitting the crown into two halves. When the music kicked in for the second part of the song the crowd went wild with the mosh pit extending right to the back of the room. The track finished with Al standing and singing on the bar at the back of the venue.
The crowd immediately started chanting for one more tune, but the band came back on and did three, the first of which was a version of When a Man Loves A Woman. Second encore was a cover version of Stand By Me by The Clash. I didn’t recognise the last encore but it was another classic Computers track with Al still managing to scream along right to the end some 55 minutes after they started.
This was a very very good gig but it could have and should have been better. Why do a cover version of an average Clash song when their own hit Group Identity would have gone down an absolute storm as an encore. There were other classic omissions from the set list such as Where Do I Fit In?, I’ve Got What It Takes and Blood Is Thicker, their inclusion would have made the set more balanced and not so heavily biased towards the new CD.
Why was the tour based so heavily in the Midlands and the South? There was only one date in Scotland (Glasgow) and the Carlisle date in Northern England. What about Newcastle, York, Leeds etc?
At the end of the day it was a very good and enjoyable show but not a great one. The new material while good, lacks the hard edge of the first CD which for me is what set The Computers apart as a really special band.
I’m pleased to say that Screaming Al Kershaw is still living up to his name, and I’ll be going to see them again the next chance I get.