The Stills – Live at The Zodiac

Canadian band The Stills sold out The Zodiac, promising an
interesting plunge into ‘80s mope-rock, whilst trying not to
be upstaged by the ought-to-be-huge Walkmen. Given just how good
the latter were, The Stills had some work to do. They began well:
Dave Hamelin on drums set a frenetic pace and didn’t put a
stick wrong all night. The guitar lines were clever, complemented
the vocals and created some complex and beautiful harmonies, and
the gravel- throated singer/guitarist swayed and posed and fawned
as well as any frontman. And when the band were static they had
an excellent animated video playing behind them. The problem was how safe this all was. The four guys played an
amazingly tight set, with everything in its place and everything
where they wanted it to be; this, as much as anything else, was
what was wrong. The stage was never for a second threatened with anything
spontaneous, unexpected or, in fact, interesting. They played
multiple false endings, they left the stage after half an hour (a
joke which might have been funnier if they had played more than
40 minutes in total), and never pushed themselves at all. It only got interesting during the final song when the drummer
took over vocals and sang his heart out. There was more to get
excited about in that one track than the whole of the rest of the
set. In short, anything The Stills might have to offer is
available on a CD, and at least you can play a game of solitaire
while listening to a cd, which would be considerably more
inspiring than watching them play live.ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2004