The Automatic

Friday, July 14, 2006
10:50 AM

The Waterfront, Norwich

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The Waterfront, Norwich

At a time when a glut of bands have flooded the charts it takes something special to stand out from the crowd.

Thankfully for The Automatic (pictured left) they have that something special in the shape of Alex Pennie - a diminutive, dervish-like figure with borderline Tourettes who sporadically bashes away at his keyboard in between rushing around the stage and screaming backing vocals.

Without him their music - characterised by sharp guitar lines and shout-along choruses - would be a run-of-the-mill post-Kaiser Chiefs, pre-We Are Scientists offering with little to distinguish it.

But with the Ian Curtis-esque figure, they are a restless energy-packed spectacle which is bound to be imitated interminably - it's as if he's a walking talking instrument unique to the band.

The single Monster was written to be performed live - it takes a pot-shot at lagered-up townies but, ignoring this tacit narrative, it is brilliantly hormone-fuelled and furious.

They tread potentially dangerous ground with You Shout You Shout - “so much trash on the radio” which keeps the zombies “dancing in the routine way”. Fortunately they get away with it - there is nothing routine about The Automatic.

As if to underline this point they cover Kanye West's Gold Digger in brilliant style for the encore. Very few bands would have the confidence to attempt this. Even fewer would have the ability to pull it off.

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