Sneaker Pimps

Union Bar, Maidstone - 31 July, 1999

"The crowd went away very happy indeed"

Wow! What a town Maidstone is. No sooner do we step off the train than we are confronted by the sight of two policemen beating the shit out of some unlucky punter outside one of the many laddie bars off the High Street. Tonight's large police presence could be due to the fact that a visiting fun fair was is full swing. Of course, it could have been due to Sneaker Pimps (now minus their chanteuse Kelli Dayton) playing their first gig on a mini tour to promote their new single "Low Five". Can they still hack it? Will the kids riot? Will Chris Corner's eye liner run?

Coincidently, the last time I was here at the Union Bar was back in March 1997 - also to see the Sneaker Pimps. That night it was so packed I didn't see a single member of the band due to the Union Bar having no stage (and the fact that I'm a short bastard!). Tonight, it's a different story. There's only a small turn out, though it's probably due to all the local students being on holiday. However, there's no lack of enthusiasm as the band take to the stage, although Chris Corner does have to play down a few hecklers with the quip "No, I'm not a girl" - much to the delight of the young girls that make up most of the front row. Sound wise it's not too bad as the band prove that they have changed little over the year they've been away. Corner can really cut it in is new role as front man. His melancholic vocals really suit the mood of the dreamy electronic pop as heard on the new single.  Tracks from the new album "Splinter" (due October) sound much stronger than those on the debut album "Becoming X", but this could be the band playing down the songs associated with (departed vocalist) Dayton. That said, the new versions of "No Place Like Home", "Six Underground" and "Spin, Spin Sugar" still sound a hundred times better than most of the 'indie' pop being churned out at the moment.

The crowd went away very happy indeed. A few had come to see a band fail, as is usually the outcome when a group looses its singer, a replacement is drafted in and the band begins its decline down pop's toilet (e.g. The Stranglers - and who remembers the mid-period Bunnymen?). Judging by tonight, this isn't going to happen to Sneaker Pimps. I look forward to the large venues and the light shows again - which I think isn't going to be too long.

Michael Perkins