Streetlight Manifesto at ULU

I only saw Streetlight last pretty recently, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t very, very excited to be seeing them again, and in London as well, which had sold out last time they toured so I’d had to go to Portsmouth. ULU is a venue I really like, in Bloomsbury right next to lovely Senate House library, and it’s just nice inside. However, on going into the main hall I got ID’d, (and told by the security guy I look about 17, not cool when I’m nearly 22), and it seemed like they were making under-18’s go on the balcony upstairs because of the bars in the main hall, totally unfair because of course that would mean no dancing. It’d be so easy to have different stamps for people under 18 or something, most venues manage it without excluding people from the best part of the venue, not impressive. Also, the ULU’s website said Dan Potthast was supporting, so I made sure I was there on time to see him, and he wasn’t, which was a shame because he’s always so good.

The first band were Advantage, a six piece from the Midlands with ex-members of Grown At Home. They played pretty good, fast ska, but did have a tendancy to waffle between songs, I maintain the best way to get a crowd going is to just play good songs, banter is hard to do well. They were at their best when they played a roots-influenced song, it really impressed me, and then they played Blaggin’ It, one of my favourite Grown At Home songs, and it was just like old times, everyone dancing, I think a few people would have been happy for them to just carry on with Grown At Home songs, despite the reminder ‘that’s a different band’ after a request for How We Roll.

Second on were Crazy Arm, a punk band from Plymouth,a slightly odd choice for the bill, and while I don’t think they were actually a bad band they didn’t really get any reaction from the crowd at all, and they seemed a bit uncomfortable though their music was technically good. I’d be interested to see them in a more punk-oriented show, because I wasn’t really able to get a proper impression of them.

Next, among considerable excitement from the crowd, were The JB Conspiracy. Until now I’d seen them play maybe four or five times, but never really got it, just thought that they were ok, but I finally understood what all the excitement is about, they’re really, really good. They played a fast, solid set, large parts of the crowd were obviously dedicated fans, which is always nice to be among, and there was lots of dancing and shouting along. The only song I really knew was This Machine, the last song of course, but it was actually the earlier parts of the set that convinced me I need that album, and now I’m really looking forward to seeing them supporting Catch 22.

Streetlight Manifesto were obviously the reason most people were there, me included, and the calls of ‘fuck you, Catch 22!’ were pretty amusing, and a nice show of band loyalty, especially considering how soon  Catch 22 will also be touring in the UK.

To be honest bits of Streetlight’s set are a bit blurry, I ended up right in the middle, surrounded by big men twice my size, I even went in the circle pit, which is a rarity for me, so I have a lot more memories of dancing while smiling like a fool, shouting along, and somehow not falling over than what songs they actually played. It did seem a well put together mix of songs though, lots of songs off both albums, but a slightly slower set than usual, which was odd. This did mean they played A Moment of Silence though, followed of course by A Moment of Violence, which lived up to it’s name in a very fun way.

Other highlights were the usual mix of Point Counterpoint-Keasby Nights-Point Counterpoint, and Failing, Flailing, but the best bit by far was the encore, Tomas Kalnoky came back on stage alone and played Sick and Sad, into Somewhere in the Between, then was joined by the rest of the band for the normal version of the song, and it just worked perfectly. It’s the first time I’d seen them do that, and everyone singing along was so nice, a great way to end the gig.

All in all, a great night, and as it was the first gig I’d been to on my own for a very long time it couldn’t have been better, the crowd were friendly and Streetlight Manifesto and The JB Conspiracy were on top form, though it was a shame about no Dan Potthast. Even better, Streetlight announced they’ll be back in the UK in August, excellent news!