Starting a tour with a home town show, supported by a hometown band, is definitely a good way get a huge run of shows started. Johnny Foreigner are an almost talismanic example of both the Birmingham and D.I.Y scenes; they have inspired a whole host of acts with their off kilter take on indie, and with the release of ‘Mono No Aware’ this year they have expanded their sound. Tonight is one of the first opportunities that a packed out Flapper audience are going to see the newly evolved JoFo, and the atmosphere is ever building.
Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam are first to step out and it is clear that the column inches and general hype they are building are not falling on deaf eyes/ears in Birmingham. Requests and singalongs are gently growing amongst the audience, and the band is feeding this into a solid set-list. Musically there are a lot of influences hiding away in the indie noise: moments of shoegaze and gentle feedback create some wonderful soundscapes; vocals snarl the way to choruses and there is a definite art punk vein running through. The influential nod towards tonight’s stage mates has set the scene wonderfully for a hometown hero’s return.
Johnny Foreigner filed out onto the stage, armed with extra keytar, and burst into one hell of a set. Old and new cuts are expertly combined and the audience is entwined in every moment. The set progresses and older songs keep on coming, adding a greatest hits feel to the middle section before the stage is left and the mood is lowered with a spine tingly acapella moment. This leads to one of the loudest moments of the show as the crowd unify and sing along. The quieter theme is continued until the final third of ‘Gliff Richard’ where the atmosphere and audience erupt into the high tempo the show ends on.
The evolution of JoFo as performers and song writers has lead them into growing in numbers, and with every new member there are layers and complexities added into new material. Within ‘Mono No Aware’ they have embraced a complex, yet sparse, sound which has given them a new maturity and also showcases the ever emotive lyrical style. As a live spectacle there is absolutely no doubt that their cult status has been both earned and deserved. However, when touring on the back of two career defining albums there was a tinge of disappointment that the set combined a few of these songs with a lot of much older songs. With this said, reviews are based on opinion and mine clearly did not match the rest of the room.
The Tour continues until October 30th