Eva Plays Dead (+ supports) at The Vic, Derby

Though frontman of Sheffield quartet, Tales Of Ordinary Madness, comes across as a little more than lightly plastered, the rockers put up an impressive set. If you’re not struck by the almost studio quality effort (which probably wouldn’t need the “almost” if Liam Bardell had been in a state to stand), you’re bound to be struck by the sheer chaos of movement on stage. On more than one occasion, bassist David Hewitt tries to physically lift to low roof; it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if they could. During a song “about drinking whiskey, making a fucking fool of yourself, texting someone you shouldn’t be texting” Liam tries to separate himself from his guitar, which gets stuck in his Heath Ledger-esque hair, before falling to his knees to sing the close of the track – whether out of passion or alcohol, it’s distinctly powerful. Whilst not always technically smooth throughout, drummer Sam Marriott keeps the show going, before closing Alternative California stands out as the best of the show for the force of the  enthusiasm and enjoyment.

Despite their pop punky “look”, Empire 35 prove to be anything but. Again, the on stage chaos ensues with enough energy in drummer James Disney to make hooking him up to the national grid a worthwhile move. Tighter than the act that preceded them, the Midlands rock quartet took their speciality to be incredibly lengthy instrumentals, giving the band the chance to showcase just how talented they are. The set wound up with a cover of Nirvana’s Breed, distinctly more colourful than the original – taking away the dingy, dark slant to the music made the rendition sound almost upbeat enough to be pop in comparison. Another impressive effort.

There are no two ways about it; Eva Plays Dead are one of Derby’s biggest bands, if not the biggest – but then again, if a non-Derbian were asked to name any Derby band, they’d be stumped. It’s easier to win in a game with less competition. We’ve previously seen the frontwomen of bands such as Jess and The Bandits take on centre stage the way Tiggy Dockerty does, but somehow – and whilst I hate to say this, it’s true – it’s very different between being in a American country band, and being in a UK Midlands alt-rock band. The show feels very much like Tiggy & Co. (much how many people perceive Paramore and Hayley & Co.), and though she makes the effort to introduce drummer Seb Boyse for the tiniest solo ever, she seems to be well on the way down the Taylor Momsen route. Being a frontwoman is very much a novelty, here.

Of course, Tiggy couldn’t strut around and shake her hips if she didn’t have the vocal ability to go with, and songs such as We Ain’t A Family (off their upcoming EP) and Thing Change give her chance to really belt it out and show what she’s capable of. The band are clearly comfortable on the stage they’ve played dozens of times before, and although more than one of the songs oozes generic lyrics and nothing particularly believable on an emotive scale, there’s little technically wrong regards the execution of the tracks.

After telling us the gig was to be filmed, we’re told to, “look like you’re having a fucking good time even if you’re not so when you’re on Facebook you can show you have a fucking good time at the weekend, even if you fucking hate the weekend, because you’re not a real person unless you’re internet famous”. Three headbangers on the front row were having the time of their life, and the rest of room was filled with the occasional roar for more. Live Again gave guitarist Matt Gascoyne chance to show what he’s capable of, but the night’s highlight came in slower You Can Have All My Money, once again giving Tiggy the power to flaunt her vocals.

If this show came from a band in their first year or two, I’d be fantastically impressed by it (don’t be fooled by their Facebook page saying they’re a wee bit over two years – they went as Bury The Ladybird for a while before). Unfortunately, they’re not, and although there was energy pulsing from the set (particularly from Matt), they seemed to be focussing too much on aesthetics than enjoyment.

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