LETLIVE. Underworld, Camden. 27.02.11
You can feel it in the air. Expectation, excitement, murmurs about history in the making. To call it a buzz might make it sound hollow and cheap but there’s certainly anticipation in here, we’re waiting for something. And then all of a sudden there’s light and heat and noise too, oh the noise. Sure, Letlive delight on disc (sophomore album ‘Fake History’ has been the sort of sleeper hit they don’t make any more and is due a re-release on Epitaph any day now) but live and in the flesh they’re electrifying.
While the Underworld isn’t exactly huge, the band immediately shrink the room, sucking you in, locking into a groove that they never skip out of. And then there’s Jason Butler. 60 seconds in and the wiry frontman has broken every microphone on the stage, two minutes and he’s not even on the stage anymore, running through a tour of the venue screaming his lyrics as he goes, and within three minutes he has half of the assembled crowd eyes wide and thrilled, half of them scared and confused, everyone in awe. Sure, some will see a petulant child-man playing rock star but there’s no feeling that Butler is faking, he looks and sounds like a man possessed with genuine demons.
London has seen wild frontmen before of course. But Letlive have the songs to back up the style. ‘The Sick, Sick, 6.8 Billion’ is a spidery, spiky, punk-rock rocket, ‘Casino Columbus’ sports just as much scattershot venom as massive shiny hooks, and while Butler disappears for most of ‘Muther’, probably serenading people in the street while the rest of the band carry on regardless, it’s bloody massive, a solid gold instant classic.
They’re not quite the saviours of rock’n’roll that the alternative press want them to be (chart rock this is not) but they are a whirling dervish, a runaway train packed with promise, and a band with the potential to plug directly into your heart and have away with it. And this is just the Hollywood quintet’s first 15 minutes on a London stage. History made.