Live Review: British India – The Gaelic Hotel (12.11.2011)

British India walk out on stage to a welcoming Sydney crowd and kick into ‘Black and White Radio’, the first song on 2007 debut album Guillotine. It seems everyone wants to follow the instruction in the chorus to: “Report to the dance floor, go go go go!” and I have to move away from the rough-looking people in the middle whose dance moves threaten to bruise my feet.

Lead singer Declan Melia is wearing a jumper, despite the Sydney heat, and looks like he’s going to take it off mid-song. He gets about halfway, with the jumper covering his face and sings through it for a few lines before pulling it down again. Popular singles from Guillotine ‘Tie Up My Hands’ and ‘Run The Red Light’ get the best reception, with people crowd surfing and pushing through the moshpit to get closer to the stage. Even walking to and from the toilets becomes a calculated adventure in a crowd like this; I misjudge the timing of someone’s jumping and spill half a beer down my top.

Melia explains he has a bit of a cough, but cough or not his vocals are strong and he only sounds croaky when he talks. They create a lot of energy while they’re playing but lack a little between songs. That’s not to say they give the impression they don’t want to be here, quite the opposite, as Melia reminisces about playing here years ago. The lack of energy might be more to do with them travelling from Adelaide and only arriving in Sydney this afternoon.

Catchy new single ‘She Prefers Older Men’ is a fun addition to the setlist but it’s older songs ‘Teenage Mother’, ‘Outside 109’ and a fun singalong to the sexy ‘You Will Die and I Will Take Over’ that stand out as highlights.
They throw in a cover of ‘Flagpole Sitta’ and Melia makes sure we know it’s a Harvey Danger song, not Green Day or Blink 182. “It’s pop-punk so it’s a bit uncool but we’re going to play it anyway,” he says before all of us show how “uncool” we are by jumping up and down and screaming: “I’m not sick but I’m not well and I’m so hot, cos I’m in hell.”

Things slow down during ‘Vanilla’ and crowd-requested ‘Council Flat’ so the people moshing around ease off a bit. Ironically, it’s when they play ‘I Said I’m Sorry’ that the trouble starts again and I notice two guys pushing each other, only to be held back by their girlfriends. ‘March Into The Ocean’ finishes the set and the band walk off without an encore.

Seeing British India is always a memorable experience, they give their all on stage and always play old singles as well as new ones. I look forward to hearing their new album when it’s released and hope they continue the fun on the rest of the tour.

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Justine McNamara

I'm an Australian living in New York. I work in marketing but I write about music, New York, and my own personal experiences.

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