March 18, 2005
The Crimea was a thirty minute fireball. The British rock quintet consumed the crowd with moxie and left them wanting more.
The two year-old band played passionate rock that was jagged and poppy during their SXSW showcase at Exodus Friday night. The set consisted of tortured, strained, noise vessels like "Someone's Crying." In between the breakdown and the demon-exercising, stage-pounding guitar rave-up, lead singer/guitarist Davey MacManus whispered, "Where was your magic, Lord? Where was your magic?"
The concert also comprised linear, melodic, and layered soft observations. On "Girl Just Died," Macmanus said, "If you want to see my angry side/Better tell me my girl just died." Keyboardist Andrew Stafford played a synthesizer that mimicked a Moog and a steel drum on "Lottery Winners on Acid." This was the band's most catchy and radio-friendly song. The guitars sounded like a whole string section, while the lyrics read like a romantic dream--"Everything she say I was thinking anyway." Drummer Owen Hopkins added tight beats, while Joseph Udwin was the bassist/vocalist.
The songs were brilliant and average at points, but what kept the performance interesting was Macmanus' stage presence. He stuttered, shook, reached into thin air, and he looked like he was on the verge of a breakdown. His eyes were watery. The spotlight was squarely on him during "Opposite Ends," when Macmanus delivered spoken-word ramblings a la Michael Stipe's in "E-Bow The Letter."
Even though it was his command of the stage and willingness to put his whole body into songs that sold the music, because of the short set, Macmanus' dramatic motions seemed insincere and a little too self-aware.
At the end of "Someone's Crying," MacManus and lead guitarist Andrew Norton swung their guitars and stumbled around the stage in rock seizures. MacManus' guitar missed Norton's head by inches twice. When they were into the songs, they seemed to be in a zone.