Instores can go either way – hordes of screaming teenage girls crushing forward to see the latest overly-made up emo band, or the sleek new pop performer, or about 40 too-cool-for-school Brick Lane types standing around “Folk, J-M” to listen to the hippest of the hip. While Tender Trap won’t be replacing geriatric joints any time soon, their fusion of 60s girl group sounds and 80s college sounds, dream-pop and hints of shoegaze and Blondie make for an intriguing mix, much more at home in E1 than, say, the HMVs of this world.
Deceptively playing a couple of tunes as a soundcheck, the five piece played a nine song set, drawing mainly on their new platter, “Dansette Dansette” – the new line-up, adding vocalist/guitarist Liz Darling and drummer/vocalist Katrina Dixon, pushes the band more firmly back to the 60s, with the CD/electronic beats of the past abandoned for a much fuller sound. The new tracks had their crowd pleasing highlights, ‘Girls with Guns’ and ‘Do You Want A Boyfriend’ being my personal favourites – the former going all jaunty British spy-film, the latter, their current single, has the cute but clever lyrics typical of such disparate bands as the Kinks and OK Go.
Some instores can pall pretty quickly, but vocalist Amelia Fletcher’s between song banter fell on appreciative ears – ranging from 6Music to pornography, she has an ingenuous way of connecting with the audience, without a hint of artifice. That’s reflected throughout the whole band, who, whilst they may not rock out, certainly look like they’re having fun, in a polite and well mannered way – no-one’s going to be dancing in the aisles there, it’s far too cool a place for that – which comes across in the music.
‘Fireworks’ and ‘Counting the Hours’ were slightly chunkier, harder numbers, betraying the 80s influences, and the final tune, ‘Oh Katrina’ (from their previous album, “6 Billion People”) had much more bite than some of the new stuff – quite like the Ronettes hooking up with Sleater-Kinney. Put simply, if you can, go see them – you’ll come away feeling a lot happier than you went in, and if that’s not worth the price of a ticket, I don’t know what is.