Wheatus at Islington Academy
On the Islington night of their 32-date UK and Ireland tour, Wheatus delivered another blazing jam-packed set to the adoring London crowd last night. After a long succession of lineup changes and countless other hurdles, creator and frontman Brendan Brown came out the other side buzzing with energy and talent.
Brown opened the set in a Rick & Morty t-shirt with That Song I Wrote When You Dissed Me as requested by the audience, and he carried on with an improvised setlist. With their rebellious disregard for the typical gig format, the band fearlessly appropriated the room to themselves. Brown shared bits of trivia and spontaneous comments between songs, such as cheekily complaining that Story of the Eggs was the hardest one to play just before smashing it.
“Wow, thanks London for knowing our weird songs!” he said just before launching into the dreamy Anyway, showcasing his trademark childlike falsetto and blending remarkably with the smooth backing vocals of Joey Slater and Gabrielle Sterbenz, creating the flawless harmonies that define their style.
Each band member performed distinctively, from Matthew Milligan’s playful antics as he enjoyed himself to everybody’s amusement, to Brandon Ticer’s adorable dance behind his keyboards in Lemonade, to Leo Freire’s masterful drumming.
They flopped a little towards the middle with new single Tipsy, which was greeted by a silent, unmoving room. The show was saved however by their famous cover of Erasure’s A Little Respect followed by a beautiful, peaceful acoustic interlude featuring Milligan on electric double bass, playing the eerie Randall and the captivating break-up song Pretty Girl ingeniously combined with Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.
The grand finale simply had to be Teenage Dirtbag. They were joined onstage by American singer songwriter Mike Doughty who performed a halfhearted rap over the middle eight but the band was quick to roar back in, assisted by a happily dancing crowd in singing the final chorus.
Despite some sound issues, every subtle nuance of Brown’s unique vocal stylings cut through to anchor the band’s inimitable sound and presence. Wheatus are known to give their fans their money’s worth, and tonight’s two-hour set was no different. A homespun band to the core, faithful to their 90s roots, Wheatus gave the millenials in the audience the bittersweet taste of nostalgia they had craved for.
Photos: Guifre de Peray
For further information about Wheatus and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Lemonade here: