Words By Nick Mee - Follow Nick on Twitter @nickjmee
So the stage has changed position, the sound-system has been upgraded, there’s a new dressing room, back bar, toilets and space for a few more punters to lively up themselves on the dancefloor. Essentially, The Finsbury has had a makeover, giving it a slicker aspect and spec yet, crucially, without sacrificing the low-lit easy ambience, welcoming lack of pretention and fabulous acoustics. A grand redesign that would have Kevin McCloud spewing superlatives over the closing credits. Were he a live music fan.
First to grace the new crescent-shaped stage on one of many unofficial relaunches this month were HOO HAs, whose blend of blues-rock and Britpop was driven by rough-and-ready lead licks, evoking the current surfeit of post-White Stripes duos but given greater range and scope by the simple factor of being fleshed-out by a four-piece. Their reach was extended further by each of the band weighing in on vocals, the backers layering laddish unison chanting to HOO HAs’ catchy tunes, bringing to mind bygone bands such as early Kaiser Chiefs and – mainly due to the Albarnesque quaver of frontman Jamie – Blur, most obviously during the earthy tale of a day by the Westway, ‘Carnival’. HOO HAs’ rootsier stateside flipside was best captured on closing number ‘Early Film Noir’, a ballsy riff-fest driven by the raucous chops of guitarist Mark, animating the band and indicating there’s plenty of stage-stealing rock’n’roll posturing in these fellas when the fires begin to burn.
Follow-up four-piece Furs’ poppy electro-soul was enhanced by sample triggers and loops, leading to a vibe that fell somewhere between Spectorish wall-of-sound and indie twee, waving in the general direction of Camera Obscura or a more proficient Alvvays. Vocalist Elle is aptly named due to her chic, Jane Birkin-like Sixties allure, and her compact band dished up sweet helpings of sugary psych-pop on tracks such as ‘Just Kids’. Furs have a look and a sound that never seems to go entirely out of vogue, and, although their set needs the odd tweak to maintain the standard, are clearly a band of some potential. The Finsbury, too, requires a few final nips and tucks before the overhaul is truly complete, but in the meantime it’s just a pleasure to be watching bands there again.
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