Citizens! & Night Engine - The Garage, London
The huddled masses occupy the Garage in the ‘hip’ Islington, North London drawn in by the promises of free alcohol and free live music; one suspects that many of them don’t particularly care about the music but who can turn down a freebie? Tonight’s Jack Daniels’ Roots campaign gig is part of a series urging music lovers to support their local music scene. It’s no wonder then that tonight’s bands are from London, with the two main acts being so fiercely different from each other - at least on paper - that one wonders just why they’ve been put on the bill together. Just why is soon apparent.
Night Engine appear on stage to some muffled whoops but they go on to deliver an emphatic set which not only impresses but gets a decent proportion of the crowd going too. Frontman Phil McDonnell looks suspiciously like Josh Homme but the music has more in common with Bowie and Talking Heads with just a dash of Muse’s histrionic side. Tipped by many to break through this year, it hasn't quite happend for Night Engine yet; 2014 will hopefully bring forth an album - and then we can properly judge.
By the time Citizens! arrive, the crowd is nicely warmed up and somewhat merry, they go on to deliver a set filled with material from their debut with a smattering of new tracks - and do it rather well too. Their presence on stage is low-key and their style is that of a more ethereal Franz Ferdinand (no surprise considering their debut was produced by frontman Alex Kapranos), but as with Night Engine, there's a Bowie-esque streak at heart.
While the bar helped grease the evening along, this was still a good showcase for London acts - both of whom show enough to suggest they can resonate outside the capital as well.