Back to Heaven again for the final date of the three night residency by one of the official ‘next big things’ of 2010. The Drums are a hideously young looking bunch of Americans whom I recently interviewed for Guitarist. I even gave their debut album 4 and a half stars out of 5. After tonight I feel like retracting that score, for this was one of those rare gigs where one particular aspect of the evening has almost completely put off the group.
Urgh, his name is lead singer Jonathan Pierce and tonight was one of the most cringemaking performances by a frontman I have ever witnessed. I should have known something was amiss when they started the show backlit, only for Jonathan to announce in exaggeratngly theatrical style ‘hello we’re the Drums and we’re from New York’.
Aren’t all bands from New York supposed to be cool? You know like the Velvets, Ramones and the Strokes (the band who drowned in a puddle of their own cool). Not this lot. The Drums come over as four tweebs with an unfortunate fetish for mid 80s UK indie pop. The worst offender by far is Pierce who has clearly wasted far too much of his time Youtubing The Smiths. He minces, sashays and generally camps around the stage like a young Morrissey on heat. It’s truly excruciating and actively detracts from the music – snappy streamlined guitar pop that’s really quite catchy.
He doesn’t seem to realise that to pull this sort of persona off you need a little bit of distance from yourself. Morrissey of course had a showbiz wink to make us realise that it wasn’t for real. Jarvis Cocker always let the audience in on the secret and anyway his persona drew on the archetypes of the Northern working men’s club/ TV game show host. But when Pierce finishes waving his arms around after each song he thanks the audience from the bottom of his heart with what sounds like deeply-felt sincerity. He looks like he means it. He actually looks like a bit of a dick.
It’s a pity as the music is great. It’s still one of my favourite albums of the year. But if I was a member of the Drums I’d have a serious word with my singer and tell him to tone it down a bit. Either that or someone should shove a copy of Notes On Camp under his nose – this is a frontman who badly needs to acquire a pair of inverted commas.