Man Like Me at the Electric Ballroom in Camden
Man Like Me, aka Johnny Langer, Peter Duffy and “trombone” Jerome, gave a very energetic and quite strange performance at the Electric Ballroom in Camden on Wednesday night. Man Like Me are signed to Mike Skinner’s record label, The Beats, and are well suited to it! There are definitely comparisons to be made between Skinner’s band The Streets and Man Like Me, especially the delivery of the lyrics and the content of the songs, mostly spoken, and in a “laddish” cockney accent! The band has a strong following after two years of steady gigging and popular releases. Man Like Me have a very youthful sound and a lot of charisma.
One way to describe the band would be…very British. Influences sound like they include Madness, Ian Dury, The Streets, and certainly The Specials. It is difficult to categorise their music; it has some ska and hip-hop, and a blend of grime and new wave experimentation, and combined with their typically British “Londoner, happy-go-lucky vibe” they are an interesting band. The night itself was chaotic, a sort of “get on stage and hope for the best” type of show, which worked for a while before it started looking a bit too unorganised. It was difficult to know what to look at; everybody on stage was dancing erratically and jumping wildly around the stage. However, Man Like Me were obviously enjoying themselves. Their energy definitely rubbed onto the audience, who danced just as madly.
The sound was a little muddled throughout the night. On a few occasions the singing couldn’t be heard properly, and was overridden by the music – vibrant beats made with cheap synths featured a lot, and strange sounds that often appeared out of nowhere. The band looked like an unlikely bunch: they wore a mix match of styles, (Jerome wore wings made from foil) not for long though – as the night progressed, Johnny Langer took most of his clothes off, which was planned as he had bizarre drawings on his body written in green felt-tip pen — “MUM” was written on his back. We’re unsure whether there was any meaning to his artwork or whether it was another “just because”. The show was very untidy: clothes and props were removed and discarded on the stage, stepped on, and had to be stepped around throughout the show. Langer got his shirt stuck on his wrist for a whole song, but at least he got some laughs out of it.
So what about the curse of Mike Skinner’s record label? The label first gave us Example and Professor Green, which were not received enthusiastically by the public, however, they both went on to huge success with other labels. Skinner has since resurrected The Beats, allegedly so he could sign Man Like Me (although he has also signed rapper/stand-up comic Elro). Skinner’s faith in the duo extends to mixing their new single and producing their forthcoming as yet untitled album. Hopefully the album will be a success, and Man Like Me will not turn out to be a band of the moment, which is what people fear for them.
Man Like Me have produced some quality songs with very funny lyrics. It’s hard to figure out how seriously they are taking themselves, but something about the trio works well. They got a lot of laughs throughout the evening, and there was a good feeling in the room until the end of the night. Langer really impressed – he is a first class front-man. Definitely an “A” for energy, for doing exactly what they want and making it work.
Photos: Adam Imiolo
For further information on Man Like Me visit their official website here.
Listen to Squeeze by Man Like Me here