Rooney - Dingwalls
Live Review

Rooney – Dingwalls, London

The three-act line-up tonight could be compared to a Neapolitan ice cream: three quite different flavours, all classic and undoubtedly enjoyable, yet all equally unadventurous.

First up is an unknown acoustic act who – thanks to a NME competition – has been given the opportunity to display his music to the masses. I say ‘masses’; of course being first on the bill he inevitably starts playing with the majority of the audience members standing in the queue outside, or quite possibly still sitting on the bus. Admittedly, I too only enter the venue halfway through his second song and being a soft acoustic act I remain a little more concerned with what’s happening at the bar than on the stage. However, thanks to his alluring vocal style and strong lyrics my area of interest soon shifts and when he informs us that as well as himself and the keyboard player performing tonight there are a further two absent members, I become increasingly intrigued. With a full band together and a crowd who’s listening these songs could be great and undoubtedly make much more of an impact. Sadly however, that is not the case tonight. In fact it’ll be a miracle if we even remember him at all, as due to severe nerves, he fails to reveal his name.

Windswept four-piece The Days on the other hand, would make it difficult for even the most forgetful amongst us to fail to recall who they are. Providing a clear introduction followed by opening song ‘The Days’ – in which the phrase ‘the days’ is sung a lot – we are not given the option to forget.

Hailing from the sandy beaches of Devon, their songs are appropriately ‘sunny’. With lyrics about girls, going to the fair and sea breezes this group of polo-shirted and painfully wholesome lads aren’t exactly rock’n’roll. In fact, when lead singer Luke swears in ‘Your New Friends’ – a song dedicated to all the boys in the audience who don’t like their girlfriend’s mates – I find myself in a state of unfamiliar shock. Of course, you don’t have to swear, look aggressive and have beer dribbling off your chin to put on a good show, but this lot could at least look a little less bored. Despite their music being so upbeat, danceable even, as performers there is a severe lack of energy and for all the bassist’s efforts, they hardly interact with one another on stage at all, let alone the audience. However, stage presence may come with experience and offering simple and instantly singable tracks like ‘Evil Girls’ and ‘Give It Away’ – which having heard only once prior to this performance I magically find myself singing along to – this band are sure to be a success, with females across the land inevitably falling at their sandy feet.

With all audience members now seemingly present, the venue remains far from full as headlining band Rooney begin their set. Best known in this country for appearing in angst-ridden American teen show The OC and describing themselves as ‘easily accessible to small children, elderly people, and rock scholars alike’, my expectations aren’t exactly high.

Unfortunately, they fail to debunk my pessimistic outlook, offering over an hours worth of songs that – although each reasonably enjoyable individually – are by no means memorable and lack any distinct identity. Flitting from one genre to another we are taken from 1970s T-Rex guitar solos to 80s cheesy synths and back again via mid-90s pop with some Beach Boys thrown in for good measure. Perhaps they’re just trying to keep everyone happy but to me, it just feels confused and a little messy. Musically, there is just too much going on including some frankly poor lyrics: ‘I’m sh-, sh-, shakin, sh-, sh-, shakin’ etc. However, what these guys do have is energy on stage, a charming front man and a clear connection with their audience, all of whom know each and every word and are clearly enjoying themselves, so it can’t be all bad. It’s safe to say I won’t be going out to purchase a Rooney record anytime soon but with sing-a-long anthems ‘When Did Your Heart Go Missing?’ and ‘I’m Shakin’ finally performed, these ticket holders are more than satisfied.

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