Japandroids + Paws – The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham 31/10/12
Review by James Brown
Tonight should by all means be a celebratory one: As well as being the last stop of the Glaswegians and Canadians UK jaunt, it will also, come midnight, mark the 30th birthday of Japandroids' sprightly frontman Brian King. But the evening begins in a somewhat apathetic fashion as PAWS take stage to an attentive-yet-static crowd. Undeterred, the three-piece deliver their upbeat, power-chord rock like Nirvana on happy pills. Cuts from the recent album Cokefloat! such as 'Jellyfish', 'Tulip' and 'Homecoming' may not provide the most ground-breaking soundtrack to the evening, but they pull it off with enough assurance to make up for it; keeping it short and sweet works in their favour, as PAWS close their set to a considerably more engaged room than they began with.
Gazing around the venue, it is clear that most are here for one band only tonight. But before they lurch into their first anthemic song of the evening, Japandroids want to let us know, by way of lengthy introduction that tonight will be "no ordinary Japandroids show"- it is Brian's last show of his twenties and he will not leave them without a party (and a half-finished bottle of Jim Beam). It takes barely a minute for the room to become a frenzy of excitement, and initially it really does feel like Birmingham might be about to bear witness to a real event. The duo tear through the first few songs of their set with all the energy you'd expect from a band who are at a crucial point on both personal and professional levels. Songs like 'Younger Us 'and 'The Boys Are Leaving Town' are equal parts nostalgia and relevance, delivered with the urgency of a couple of young men finally living out their pipe-dreams. But it is around the halfway point of their set that the party starts to wind down- and not through lack of trying on Japandroid's part. The niggling parts of their set that were before overshadowed by their conviction become increasingly prevalent: The sound is muddy, and whilst this is not the band's fault entirely, it is not helped by the unfortunate fact that many of their songs simply sound too similar to one another. Even self-proclaimed "slow song" 'Continuous Thunder', from the new LP Celebration Rock, fails to provide a breather and by the end even the most hardened Japandroid fan seems to have overdosed on the twosome's relentless excitement. Overall a fun night, but Japandroids seem to prove that it is indeed possible to have too much of a good thing.