By the time I’ve stumbled down into the infamous Soho basement, a few minutes past nine, the room is already full of sweaty faces, fists pounding the air and Pigeon Detectives frontman, Matt Bowman, surfing the crowd to the encore of ‘I Found Out’. The crowd, mostly consisting of young men wearing band t-shirts, angrily shove at each other in an attempt to get closer to the action.
In a tour announcement , Pigeon Detectives told fans that this October tour is to “test out some of the new material and also blow the cobwebs off our back catalogue in a series of hand picked intimate shows”. With a capacity of only 275, The Borderline certainly is the sort of venue where the band can “look the audience in the eye and recapture the magic” and Bowman did just that; bumping the fists and kissing the hands of anyone who dared to clamber onto their neighbour’s shoulders, pouring warm beer into open and eager mouths of the front line, meeting fans after the set for a bit of a chat over a pint. At one point he even nicked my jacket and strutted around stage waving it wildly above his head, before diving back into the audience.
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The level of enthusiasm from the audience remained on a high throughout the set, not just thanks to Bowman’s great showmanship. Regardless of whether the Pigeon Detectives were playing one of their many hits (‘Take Her Back’, ‘Romantic Type’, ‘Animal’ to name a few) or trying out a lesser known – or dare I say “filler” – number (‘Done In Secret’, ‘Day & Month’), the catchy hooks and memorable choruses meant that the crowd could join in every song; chanting, shouting and raging along with an unmistakable adolescent zeal. Pigeon Detectives live are all about the show and as they blare out ‘Everybody Wants Me’, accompanied by two-hundred-odd cheers, it becomes clear that their music is made for easy consumption.
The handful of top twenty singles spawned by their first album, ‘Wait For Me’, were fun and precisely what you demand from an indie rock band from Leeds. Their confident branding and moderate success as exactly that has instilled in them a sort of keep-on keep-on-ing mojo, where four albums along they don’t show any sign of experimenting with their sound or changing it up at all.
So whilst the Pigeons aren’t leading a musical revolution anytime soon, their sold out tour of mini-gigs around the UK this month prove that, simply and crudely put, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Bowman’s just-cocky-enough attitude is enough to win over any ambivalent listener, as he picks himself off the ground, cleans up his bloody mouth and carries on with the set after a stage dive gets a bit rough. In the final song, ‘I’m Not Sorry’, the crowd storms the stage, to the delight and encouragement of the unapologetically formulaic indie rock band from Leeds.