Gig Review: OmertaIslington Bar Academy
16 November 2006
"We're Omerta. Our first song is Our Hope. Hope you like it." Then the show begins with all its prog-rock song structure and arena-rock guitar. A few things are striking from the outset. First and foremost is a realization of just how cool Mike Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High really was: that guy was wearing pink Izod pinstripe shirts decades before any of the Strokes/Hives/Vines/Green Day hoopla. The second is that, for a band whose name is usually translated as "law of silence", they make a lot of noise.
Omerta's show cements the debt owed by Omerta to their New York brothers Interpol. The two bands dress similarly, dance similarly and sound like long-lost twins separated at birth. For example, listen to Interpol's vocals sometime. You'll notice that Daniel Kessler, the singer for Interpol, has a habit of never changing tone in the middle of a word. He has a strange stilted style because of this: "it's WAY too LATE..." etc. Omerta's Aaron Starkie has copied this almost exactly. The same goes for the crystalline guitar work: Interpol is, as mentioned earlier, an arena-rock band at heart. And so goes it for Omerta: in the six years (that's 1998 to 2004 to you) between the emergence of these two bands, the music world hasn't moved much beyond the desire for power chords and catchy tunes.
So if you really like Interpol but are poor, go see Omerta. Their tickets are cheaper, the venues are smaller, more charming and easier to move around in. 16 November saw the bunch rocking the Islington Bar Academy, a smaller venue that's actually preferable to the main stage upstairs. The larger stage almost inevitably fills up with people clustered in the front trying to get that extra four inches closer to the band; the bar stage, on the other hand, was still relatively easy to move around in even at the height of the show.
Not that there was a whole lot of moving around at the Omerta show, though. Other than Starkie's strange twisting dance (it looked as though he was trying to curl into the foetal position while staying on his feet) there was little other movement in the venue. Only a few hipsters nodded along, most everyone else seemed disinterested. It was a shame, to be honest, since the real strength of bands like Omerta and, of course, Interpol, is their candour and agreeability.
On that note, look out for Omerta's new single One More Minute. It recently hit Radio 1's Top 20 Indie Singles and for good reason. This short EP is a tone-perfect distillation of the live set; it's a high-energy-yet-angst-ridden short set, with Starkie's pained wail pitched over a driving clamour of guitar. In the end, the real question is: do you like Interpol? If so, look out for Omerta. They're not going anywhere.
- Nicholas Carter
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