With red noses onstage and a crowd clad in cosy winter clothes, The Social Services (***) have their work cut out restoring circulation to a shivering Tut's audience. Luckily they’ve just the right tools: haphazardly-distributed percussion and an open invitation to join in melts frozen faces into grins, and before long their bouncy pop and sweet demeanour combine to produce ready-brek glows all round.
Winning over the crowd comes more easily to Bright Young Nights (**), with a sizable number of excitable supporters filling out the front. For newcomers like myself, the effect is surreal: an enthusiastic four-piece with poses down pat, playing like they’ve sold-out Wembley and enjoining the ‘masses’ to sing along, sway arms or bounce to their central-belt Kings of Leon homage. The devotees obey; others look nonplussed. But they’re certainly keen; alas, their material only occasionally matches the bravado.
Nacional (****) by comparison, sound primed for bigger things. The contrast between Rob Armstrong’s poised croon and the furious-squall whipped up by the band is a winning formula owing much to noisy-indie pioneers The Wedding Present. Tonight the formula comes with an appealing adjunct, a string quartet in the second half augmenting the crescendos and layering the melodies. Broken strings (first guitar, then cello) can’t snap their concentration, and though the crowd response is perplexingly muted, anticipation for their debut full-length (due soon) is sky-high and rising come the conclusion.