Natives at CargoCultureMusicLive music
What is Tribal Pop? Just ask Natives, for it is they who coined the phrase to describe their own sound. It’s rare to see a band occupy all of one sub-genre of mainstream music, but it’s fair to say that Natives seem to carry it off with aplomb. They were back in London last night, playing their first gig in two years at the somewhat sticky Cargo club in Old Street.
Before we delve into the finer intricacies of what Natives are about, we must first heavily caveat this entire review with a withering stare towards the acoustic set up at Cargo itself. All a band can ever ask for when playing live is mild competency towards their sound, but it seemed last night that this was a stretch too far for those in charge of the sound desk. After all, when you strip away the showmanship and the lights, the core of a live gig is the sound right? Well the memo clearly wasn’t circulated, and unfortunately the set suffered as a result.
Natives themselves seemed to be in a state of mild anxiety over the issue, especially since it took the first two songs for someone to notice that the bassist wasn’t actually plugged in. That being said, the four-piece did their able best, and songs like Passion and Pray were delightful pop jangles, bass or no bass. Their melodies were clean, crisp and uplifting, and suitably supported by the delightful vocals of singer Jim Thomas. War of Hate, the second single off the new album we were reliably informed, was an instant hit with the crowd, who seemed to finally shake off their earlier acoustic misgivings to get involved in the show.
At times, Natives can try to do too much, and as a result their music suffers. In reality, it’s somewhat unnecessary to have all four band members smashing drums at the same time, and sometimes certain songs just sound a little over-arranged. Nowhere was this more obvious than with set closer Stop the Rain, which instantly proved that less is more, and was without a doubt their best song of the night.
Considering it was their first gig in two years, playing a raft of new material, and the fact that they were receiving very little support from the sound desk, the minor mistakes and foibles can be overlooked. What mattered was the quality of their songs, which were entertaining, catchy and, crucially, uplifting. A long tour awaits Natives, and with a few more miles and hours under their belts, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
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Watch the video for Stop the Rain here: