Live Review: Teleman at Mercury Lounge, New York City – 25th September 2014

By on Monday, 29th September 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Despite not being a native New Yorker and living over 200 miles southwest of the place, I have been slowly but surely chipping away at my list of venues to see in the Big Apple. In the second half of last week, I finally got to witness London-based Teleman live, twice, during their first visit to our country and my first experience of the Mercury Lounge on East Houston Street. This review focusses on their first show in the Lower East Side, but later on this piece, I’ll briefly mention the differences between the two shows.

When I first arrived, slightly winded having just taken the train up from Washington and worried I was going to miss the start of their set, I was relieved to see they were still setting up. I’m not sure if this will continue, but the each member of the band – comprising ex-Pete and the Pirates members Tommy Sanders (vocals / guitar), his brother Jonny (keyboard / synths) and Pete Cattermoul (bass guitar) along with drummer Hiro Amamiya – is wearing a different shirt, each incorporating the three colours of yellow, red and blue that figure as dots on the abstract album art for their Moshi Moshi Records debut ‘Breakfast’ (reviewed by me here). Considering that since fashion-wise color blocks are still in, maybe they’re just ahead of this industry’s curve?

I think it’s always a precarious thing to go watch a band perform one of your favourite albums of the year. I do, however, always remember something Ed Macfarlane said a long time ago in a Friendly Fires interview, which was generally of the sentiment that your live show should bring something different to the table, because if someone wanted to hear the album reproduced faithfully live, they might as well listen to the album. I don’t know if you could blame the tentativeness in the first half of Teleman’s set on nerves, but the punchiness of first two songs ‘In Your Fur’ and ‘Mainline’ you hear on the album seemed not to translate live. As I was stood there down the front at Mercury Lounge, I noticed how crisp and clear the guitar notes sounded in the place, which seemed odd to me but amazing at the same time, if I compared it to the varying degrees of muddle I’m accustomed to.

Actually, muddling might have been a benefit to the set, as the conclusion of ‘In Your Fur’ was an extended psych rock out jam session. Similarly, insistently rocky ‘Steam Train Girl’ was also lengthened, much to the delight of the girls in front of me who were having a whale of a time, kicking their heels up to the music. The Teleman sound is definitely of the toe-tapping variety but not exactly designed for ravers. ‘Skeleton Dance’, arguably the most dancey of all the tracks on the debut album, with the brothers Sanders synths and guitar coming together harmoniously.

‘Breakfast’ most truly beautiful moments came across wonderfully live, as the trifecta of the bright yet regretful ‘Monday Morning’, the heart-pounding drums of past single ’23 Floors Up’ and almost nursery rhyme simplicity of the melody in ‘Lady Low’ in quick succession becomes the sonic equivalent of being simultaneously socked in the stomach and the heart. Sadly, due to the early show curfew, the set was cut short, with ‘Redhead Saturday’ not getting an airing until the next night at Glasslands in Williamsburg.

Still, quite possibly the crowning moment for those people so adamant that Teleman must be Kraftwerk obsessives (for the record, it’s not true, according to an interview Tommy did with Under the Radar magazine here in the States), hidden album track ‘Not in Control’ is directed by its beats, leading punters at both New York shows to bop to the rhythm and some cases, leaving them in a psych-ey, trance-like state that you wouldn’t see at a ‘pop’ show. I think the more the band tour this album, the better their set will be. Oh, and sorry to anyone who wants to request a Pete and the Pirates song, such as the couple who shouted for ‘Cold Black Kitty’. They don’t remember the chords.

After the cut: Teleman’s set list.

Teleman Set List:
In Your Fur
Mainline
Skeleton Dance
Cristina
Steam Train Girl
Monday Morning
23 Floors Up
Lady Low
Not in Control

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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