Telegraphs at Islington Academy

19th June 2009 – 4.18 pm

Ah, I see. In the small print on the ticket the venue is listed as the Academy 2, even though the banner text mentions only the Islington Academy. This explains why I went to the wrong entrance. I'm not entirely sure why the distinction between the two venues isn't more prominent on the tickets and all the other advertising material, I'm hardly going to be ashamed to be going to a smaller venue. Indeed, I prefer the more intimate places, where there are no barriers between audience and band, where it's possible to chat casually with the acts between sets when buying merchandise. I think I'm going to enjoy this evening.

From the emphasis given to Lights Action from the promotional material and when buying the ticket I was under the impression that this is a dual-headlining gig, with the Telegraphs supporting. This isn't a problem, I just make sure I head out early enough not to miss the support act slot. When I finally get to the right venue I find that not only are Telegraphs headlining but there is another support band to play before Lights Action, extending my evening out a little. Hearing and seeing more live music is generally a good experience, so I won't complain.

First to play are Pharaohs, who are on stage so early that the venue is far from even half-full and no one has dared to get close to the stage just yet. Front man Jonny encourages everyone to step up after some introductory riffs, and such is their energy and charisma that people do actually all walk up to the stage rather than remain hovering around the edges. Despite the low numbers in the audience Pharaohs receive a warm reception, deservedly so in my opinion, for the songs are played with skill and enthusiasm, are catchy and fun, and the band are friendly and confident. When a string breaks on one of the lead guitars half-way through the set Jonny pulls it off the bridge and declares they'll finish the set with only five strings. A heckler tells them to get a spare guitar, but Pharaohs call back that they are a rock band, they don't need spare guitars. The rest of the Pharaohs' short set is just as good as the start, even if I'm not convinced that 'this one's a bit dancey' when there is a long string of triplets in the middle. I am completely drawn in to the music and will definitely keep an eye out for more from Pharaohs.

Lights Action spend quite a while setting up, although no longer than the posted set list gives them. It turns out that they are having equipment problems, even pausing after the first song for the drummer to fix his hi-hat. That's about as interesting as their set gets for me, though, as they seem determined to cram as many power ballads in to a forty five minute set as possible. Having the drummer pound every single beat vehemently and the singer croon every note so hard he winces makes for an intense set but it's just not my bag. After a couple of songs I get bored and wander off for a while.

Finally, Telegraphs take the stage and thump straight in to album-opener The Argument, a technically impressive song that also gets heads nodding and bodies bobbing with its musicality. After a quick introduction from Darcy Harrison, to prove that the first song is no fluke Telegraphs hit hard with the brilliant Your First Love is Dead, a track so cool and full of rock that it gives the impression if the whole set continues building on this crescendo there will be explosions of some sort before long. Instead, we are encouraged to think as political song Rules of Modern Policing has biting lyrics that ring true in the current climate. The only drawback to the song being that listening too closely can depress you, but such is the effect of good music, and it's possible to let the music wash over you instead for a positive vibe.

All the songs played are from debut album We Were Ghosts, with other highlights showcased being the uplifting We Dance in Slow Motion and the epic-feeling set-closer Notes From an Exit Station. Despite there being plenty of appreciation for Telegraphs it is simply difficult for the applause to sustain given such a small crowd and so no encore is played. But as the saying goes, always leave the audience wanting more, and Telegraphs have shown just the kind of powerful, interesting and enjoyable music they are capable of creating and playing. With such an energetic and passionate live set, backed up by an excellent album, I have no doubt that Telegraphs will continue to grow and look forward to seeing them again.

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