By Kirsty Fraser
The last time I caught We Are Scientists live, their stage entrance consisted of Chris and Keith doing a bit of rave dancing to some 90s dance classic. It’s this kind of quirkiness which has maintained a small but die-hard support for the band, long after their mid-2000s success with songs such as Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt.
The band’s grand entrance onto the ABC stage tonight, promoting new album ‘TV En Francais’, is a little subtler. The lights dim and the PA system begins to belt out REO Speedwagon’s 1981 hit Keep on Loving You. The band casually stride on, take a few swigs of alcohol and then launch into Return the Favor from the new release – a slow build song, which generates a bit of early atmosphere and peaks during the guitar solo.
After Hours is up next and is given an angst ridden overhaul, complete with feedback and much animation from the 3 figures onstage. The true joy of tonight’s show however, comes from the chats between the 2 central figures in the band – Keith Murray and Chris Cain. Everything is thrown in – from how to properly pronounce Glasgow to psycho sexual perverts and even a bit of Sir Michael Caine for good measure. At one point a fan is invited onstage for Keith to jokingly deride for not backing him up.
That mid-2000s track I mentioned earlier gets an airing about 4 songs into the set and is received with uniform jumping from the die-hards at the front and head nodding or fist pumping from everyone else. Dumb Luck carries on the upbeat vibe and adds a touch of hair-metal in the guitar riff. Whilst Textbook rumbles from the floorboards up and showcases the simplicity and beauty in the bass guitar and drums.
Angst is driven into the verses of Make It Easy, which then transforms into that bittersweet, but euphoric chorus line. But it’s in last song of the main set – It’s a Hit – that real attack is to be found.
The encore segues old and new – from 2005s Can’t Lose to 2013s Slow Down – both sound glorious, but everyone knows what’s left: The Great Escape is blistering in its pace and heady in its response from the singing crowd. Those die-hard fans might have come for the new stuff but they stayed for the classics.