Losers Live @ Bodega, Nottingham 12/10/2014

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Without doubt one of the most exciting bands I have come across in recent years, Losers are wryly named for their inability to adhere to trends rather than any further failings on their part. A genuinely likable and intelligent band, Losers may not yet pack out stadiums (although surely the mighty ‘oblivion’ or the immense ‘Azan’ should have them doing exactly that) but what is clear is that each and every hard-won fan that the band do have are head over heels in love with them. It is clear from the sense of anticipation that fills the Bodega club in Nottingham on a cold and dreary Sunday evening; it is clear from the fact that the dancing starts when the first instrumental bars of the band’s intro tape stutter into life and it is clear from the fact that everyone crowded into that small room knows the words. Losers know graft. They tour relentlessly, whether it’s supporting rock legend Gary Numan (who’s been incredibly vocal in his support of the band) or heading out on their own (and first ever) headline tour, and each live show is a performance, a high octane mix of traditional rock ‘n’ roll stage moves (Tom and Eddie), performance art (Paul) and restless energy (all three) complete with projected backdrop and a level of personal interaction that has the audience utterly hooked. Most importantly Losers genuinely revel in the interaction and the transformation that takes place between a backstage chat where the band come across as calm and collected and the moment hit the stage, already super-charged with adrenalin shows just how much they have invested in this most creative of bands.

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What really sets Losers apart, however, are the songs. As impressive as their performance is, it is the music that really marks the band out as something special. Each song resonates with personal imagery and frenetic energy and live… well live, the band, augmented by Dean Pearson and Sammi Doll, blow the recorded versions out of the water, tearing through songs like ‘Acrobatica’ with a furious abandon that is entirely infectious. Kicking off the show, ‘DNA’ mutates from its late-night-with-massive-attack studio form into a loose-limbed beast, caught between dark, aching verse and a soaring chorus that the crowd sing almost as loud as the band. It was, I initially thought, an odd choice for an opener, but as the song moves through its various phases, from dark-wave nightmare to full-throated battle cry, it became clear that the band had picked the perfect opening number. ‘Us Vs Night’, with its syncopated drums and HUGE chorus follows on and then we’re into pure rock nirvana with the metallic ‘Acrobatica’, a song that should be played on every stereo, everywhere across the country. It’s a brilliant moment of electro-fuelled rock, the sort of the thing the always excellent Cooper Temple Clause did so well, rebuilt with added flair by a band that oozes passion. The Bodega barely survives. The audience may not be huge, but they make up for lack of numbers with overwhelming energy and it’s hard to see the band for the flailing hair, waving arms and bouncing feet. It feels great to be in the centre of a crowd so obviously committed to the band and the band respond in kind.

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Slowing things down a touch, the mesmerising ‘the chain’ is next with its haunting chorus, jabbering electronic noise and Paul’s intense performance. It’s hard to describe adequately to someone who hasn’t witnessed the band, but a Losers performance is a thing of beauty, an ever-changing experience that draws from rock, metal, industrial, ambient and techno to deliver the sort of eclectic and engaging experience that so few bands engage in. Oblivious to any form of trend or fad, the Losers exist in a little pocket of one, harking back to the more experimental end of the 90s when bands like Massive Attack, Prodigy, Unkle, Arab Strap and Nine inch nails regularly explored the vast and varied spectrum of music in order to create something new and entirely thrilling. More to the point, Losers have learnt from them but not copied them, developing their own innovative sound in the process. ‘Half beat house’ sits comfortably between ‘kid A’-era Radiohead and Placebo whilst the double whammy of ‘think you’ and ‘turn around’, the latter with its huge squall of electronic noise and massive wall of guitars, is as emotional as rock music gets – beautifully conceived and delivered and genuinely cathartic. From then on it’s a non-stop rush to the conclusion via ‘don’t waste your life away’, the aforementioned ‘oblivion’ and ‘azan’, a near perfect song (in whichever incarnation you hear it) that needs to be removed surgically once you’ve heard it.

Losers are one of the best, most exciting, enigmatic, engaging and eclectic bands currently out there. This first headline tour may have been quite small in scale, but with the music they make it will not be long until the rest of the world catches on to what we already know. A losers live show is a thing to treasure, and there is no question that the crowd who filled the Bodega with cheers after every song will treasure that performance for a long time yet to come. Losers are a band who have to be experienced live, and Sunday’s performance was special indeed.

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