Sunday, 20 May 2012

Tribes. Live at O2 Academy 2, Birmingham. 09/05/2012

Five months after their debut release, ‘Baby’, something has changed. Tribes have seen a significant shift in the demography of their audience; from the artsy festival goers’ thoughtful nods to teenage screams and handmade banners, the band now look out to a increasingly passionate teenage following (lead singer Johnny Lloyd dedicates the encore to two young girls who have attended every show of the tour). Maybe it’s the extensive touring of the album, maybe it’s the beginnings of Lloyds’s evolution into ‘rock front man’, or perhaps, with an increasing absence of guitar music in popular culture, Tribes are now an answer for those who don’t sign up to the general apathy and mass consecration to Cowell and the X-Factor machine.

Album opener, ‘Whenever’, is a particular highlight, and Tribes well rehearsed and tightly refined pop-grunge validates their popularity, showing just why they have been the recipients of high critical acclaim. Aside from a small dip in tempo in the middle, presumably to give the album tracks one last run out; Tribes’ show is excitably received, with main finale and indie ‘hit’, ‘We Were Children’, proving particularly rapturous.

Whilst there are signs of obvious enjoyment from the band, there is a sense that the episode of ‘Baby’ is about to finish, and a new album may be what Tribes need to continue growing up. This inevitably poses questions for both band and fans as to the direction of the next album. Whether a conscious decision to remain critically respected and resist the temptation to resign into a potentially dangerous zone of popular mass appeal, consequently ‘doing a Razorlight’, is as yet unknown, but here, on the last day of their UK tour, Tribes seem happy to roll out the album, and as well they might.

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