Late on in their album launch gig at West Bridgford’s Boat Club, Dog is Dead dinger Rob Milton informed us that he played his second ever gig on this stage when he was 13 years old. Clearly, there was no better choice of venue for this intimate event – and it was on the right side of the river. “NG2!” Milton cheered, celebrating the band’s West Bridgford origins.
On the occasion of the launch of the band’s debut album All Our Favourite Stories, this was a night to celebrate the success of one of Nottingham’s best musical exports. An intimate venue was packed to the rafters with a lovely mix of hardcore fans, friends and family and folks who had supported the band over the last few years.
The evening was opened by Loughborough three piece Park Bench Society whose promising indie-pop variously channelled Vampire Weekend and the Specials. With a headline gig at the Bodega scheduled for later this year, the youthful trio certainly have time on their side.
By the time Dog is Dead took to the stage, the atmosphere in the Boat Club was terrific. Electing to perform their debut album in track order, the five piece – plus a mystery instrumentalist – immediately got the crowd going with funky opening track Get Low and the insanely catchy Do The Right Thing.
By the time the band had rocked their way through forthcoming single Teenage Daughter, the sweat was beginning to pour off both the band and the crowd. For one night only it seemed like we’d travelled back in time to the heady days of the 1970s when Elton John, Rod Stewart, T.Rex and Iron Maiden performed on the Boat Club stage.
A string of the band’s superb singles followed. Current release Talk Through The Night makes more sense as a live track, while the brilliant crescendo of Two Devils had the crowd singing along at the top of their voice. Hands Down remains the best indie-pop single of the last 18 months and sounded fantastic while there was clearly a lot of affection for the bands ‘oldest’ track, the saxophone anthem – if there can be such a thing - Glockenspiel Song. Is there a better indie refrain than “We’re a mess, we are failures and we love it”? I’d be surprised.
River Jordan gave the boys a chance to rock out on their electric guitars – not that they needed one – and its anthemic chorus led into the final track of the evening – the more reflective Any Movement.
As the house lights came up on a stunning performance, it was hard not to feel a little bit of pride. Seeing the boys finally reaping the rewards of their hard work was a brilliant moment and dozens of passionate supporters of the band could be seen grinning from ear to ear throughout.
While All Our Favourite Stories is a brilliant album, it is only when you see these songs performed live that they make perfect sense. Dog is Dead are one of a rare breed of artists that enhance their songs when they perform them on stage, and in many ways I’d rather listen to the live version of these anthemic pop tunes than the record.
And, on the evidence of this performance, the boys can expect some special live moments in 2013. They’ve already announced a headline show at Rock City in March and I wouldn’t be surprised to see thousands of festival-goers belting out these tracks by the end of next summer.
All in all, it was the perfect gig in the perfect venue. The band, their fans and the city of Nottingham should feel rightly proud.
Dog Is Dead played The Boat Club on Monday 8 October 2012.