Theme Park: London – live review
March 14th 2013
Theme Park have a great sound and write some terrific, bouncy pop inspired songs. Keith Goldhanger has a great time at their show but wishes they’d let rip just a little.
POP music during the 80’s was shit.
It was shit then and it still sounds a bit shit still today.
Some of us were going out in the 80’s to see bands like Crass, The Birthday Party, The Assassins of Hope, and Bauhaus and those of us that did could still quote a song lyric or two or even do a decent karaoke version of these type of bands if such things existed (well maybe not “The Assassins of Hope”, that wouldn’t be true).
How many out there who bought all those “Culture Club”, “ABC” or “Wham!” albums in the 80’s still listen to them today? How many people in this category are even reading stuff like this thirty years later because they are still interested in music? Wham!’s “Club Tropicana” for example, is ok now we don’t have to listen to it 20 times a day but some of us rejected that because of the way it was packaged and forced upon us 24 hours a day whilst the likes of those bands WE WANTED to hear were rejected (unless we stayed up late to listen to John Peel).
“Wake me up before you go-go” really sucked.
How many people will still be pumping out those Girls Aloud album fillers in 2033 (or even 2014 for that matter)?
Disposable POP – does what it says on the tin.
However some good came out of it.
People like you and I sniffed at all that nonsense, we tried to ignore it and got on with what we still listen to now (something a bit more challenging, music that made us make a bit of effort to understand, something we could make up our own minds about and stuff that made us laugh, cry, fall in love to and still remember all these years later).
Which after a few decades means WE WERE FUCKIN RIGHT ALL ALONG so stick THAT where the sun don’t shine BATES , BLACKBURN, DAVIES , WATERMAN, STOCK , the other one and all the others that made our lives miserable every fuckin time we turned on the radio back then.
So what’s this gotta do with THEME PARK then?
They do remind us of these times a bit and now that we have more choice everyday to what we can listen to, they’re a welcome pleasure (I refuse to feel “Guilty” about anything I listen to by the way!)
My Mate “Disco Marky” say’s he likes THEME PARK because they’re the “anti lad band” and as if by magic I bump into “Disco Marky” at the entrance where he tells me a story about a recent gig (by a band we quietly label ” a bit of a lad’s band”) in the UK recently that turned a bit nasty (“all kicked off” as the saying goes) and cemented what we were discussing previously before proceeding to chuckle and point menacingly at the two burly florescent jacket wearing body builders standing to attention either side of the stage this evening.
…at a THEME PARK gig !
In today’s spoilt for choice world it’s good to have a band like Theme Park, writing songs that remind us a little of those tunes we used to hear on the wireless many years ago but on their own terms and fresher, catchier, and more memorable. They’re a good reminder that we’re currently living in a world where practically anything goes and we don’t feel we’re being force fed what the man (and for the sake of argument let’s call him “Cowell” shall we ?) wants us to hear as much as we used to.
Unless you want to buy a pair of trousers. These bloody shops are always pumping out rubbish music.
There’s one or two bands out there at the moment (I’ll tell you about some of these others at a later date) that make us wonder out loud “what sort of world are we living in that makes five young people pick up guitars and end up sounding like this ?” Which is one reason why I’m still here, standing in a big room on a school night (literally for some of the audience) tapping my toes and watching people sing along to “the hits” (the singles) and nodding casually to the others.
Theme Park seem a happy bunch of people.
Very polite, not afraid to get their hands dirty and writers of some nice bouncy pop songs.
However, this being a very big gig in their short careers has been a missed opportunity.
Simply just playing the tunes and politely thanking us all for buying the album (I haven’t) in between songs leaves us wishing for more.
This could have been an opportunity to just grind away all evening and turn this place into one big fuck off DISCO (that word again), incorporating their tunes we all know and love and this would have been a lot more edgy, threatening, cutting edge….and entertaining.
Entering the stage to their own little intro from Anita Ward’s “Ring my Bell” (you know it , it’s the one that goes PEEEOOOOWWW!!! -) should be a good enough indication – A fab way to start.
Maybe some of us have seen them enough times in tiny non appreciative rooms to want more. A year ago we were starting to believe that these boys would soon take over the dance floors and show us they not only had the songs to listen to whilst navigating the M25 but had the SOUNDS and the potential to blast out hours worth of non stop hands in the air forget who you’re standing next to dance music that would go on well after everyone’s bedtime.
They still do.
At the moment the Theme Park show lacks any edge, showbiz and glamour. Sure they still look great standing side by side politely twanging guitars like “The Shadows” used to and occasionally swaying side to side but there’s little improvisation or surprises. Theme Park have tunes that would blend into one another nicely whilst we could be simultaneously dancing around on flashing floors with flashing overhead lights and hearing BIGGER bass drums and they could even grab the attention of the people that would quite happily bounce around in this same venue on a Saturday night as well.
They look ok and sound good but could be better.
Could be brilliant.
Should be brilliant and hopefully one day might still be brilliant.
They have a catalogue of tunes already nearly as strong as “Blue Monday” and maybe whilst I’m checking my lottery tickets on a Saturday evening there are people dancing around to all these Theme Park tunes out there in indie clubs throughout the UK.
However, if they dirty it all up a bit, start jamming out those long summery Caribbean rhythms’ that keep people smiling and blend them in seamlessly into the great tunes they’ve already written we could be onto something.
They’ve done the most difficult bit so why not ‘ave a paaaarrrrty? Let yr hair down, get some trumpets. Get some more drummers, get Boy fuckin George in to make a guest appearance and go a bit fuckin crazy. Don’t leave gaps …. don’t be so kind to us …. just make us dance non stop for an hour or two so we can go home feeling guilty that we’re sitting on a night bus smelling of our own sweat and aching from the dancing we haven’t had for a while.
Theme Park have some ace tunes that you can dance around your bedroom to or nod happily to whilst sitting in traffic jams but after dark we want to go a bit mental, un-tuck our shirts and wave our hands in the air a bit more.
I’m really just here for the disco tonight which didn’t really materialise (All I got was another indie gig – a t-shirt slogan if I ever wrote one). So go on boys, get the streamers out, get some bigger flashing lights …. bubbles ! Get the room filled with FUCKIN’ BUBBLES ! Recreate the feeling we get when we watch your excellent videos and allow yourselves opportunities to throw down your guitars and dance with us …. you can do it.
I’ll be there.
I haven’t asked “Disco Marky” yet.
All words by Keith Goldhanger. More work by Keith Goldhanger on Louder Than War can be found here.