Live Review: Johnny Foreigner with Screaming Maldini and Stagecoach at London Garage – 21st November 2011

By on Monday, 5th December 2011 at 2:00 pm

With the launch of ‘Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything’ (review here), Johnny Foreigner decided to put on two parties. Billed as VsLondon and VsBirmingham, their label Alcopop! put together a showcase like no other with a billing which could make most other indie labels a little jealous. For one night only, VsLondon comes to the upstairs venue of The Garage in London and it promises to be a good one.

Arriving just in time to catch Screaming Maldini, I’m promised that Pandas and People and My First Tooth were lovely (and I’m certain that they’re right). Screaming Maldini really start to get warmed up but as venues will be venues, their set is cut short to make sure tonight stays on schedule. Doors close at 10 pm so starting at 5 does its best to keep everything going. Their shortened set proves to remove any filler the group may have and keeps their set short and sweet.  They’re definitely a band to keep a watch on for the next year or so as their music just keeps getting stronger.

Next up and the main support for the evening are live favourites Stagecoach. Having supported Johnny Foreigner in their winter tour last year, the groups are sound friends and their fantastic summer of festivals has if anything made them an even stronger live band. Tonight’s crowd are familiar with them and from start to finish, it’s manic. Playing from each of their EPs and singles, ‘Map to the Freezer’ and ‘Hieroglyphics’ are highlights of a fantastic set.

Everything’s been leading up to tonight’s headliners though. ‘Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything’ has created huge debate on and has received a generally warm reception most other places. Of course, with a reputation as a strong live band, the Birmingham trio tonight are leaving it down to the music, even if the crowd are chanting “Who the fuck is Ricky Martin?”

Beginning with new album opener ‘If I’m The Most Famous Boy…’  before rifling through a selection of their back catalogue, through both EPs and albums to date. In parts, crowd and band appear to be one, as the enthusiastic audience sing along to every word with pure dedication. This comes to a peak in the ever popular ‘Salt, Peppa and Spinderella’, both a JoFo staple and possibly the track they’re best known for as The Garage turns into pure chants all the way through to the climax of “turn on the real drums” to which the room becomes pandemonium.

Choosing to limit the work from their second record ‘Grace and the Bigger Picture’ to just ‘Every Cloakroom’ ever, it almost doesn’t feel right to not get ‘Feels like Summer’ or ‘Criminals’ instead focusing on more recent EP work, but no-one seems to mind. They close their main set with new single ‘You Vs Everything’ (Video of the Moment, using footage from the show), which proves that as one of the standout tracks on the record, it does itself justice live.

An encore of debut album ‘Waited up Til It Was Light’ closing tracks ‘Yr All Just Jealous’ and ‘Absolute Balance’ might close the band’s set in style, but the crowd continue singing a drunken medley of tracks not heard tonight until being steadily ushered out for doors. It’s been a big night for Johnny Foreigner and Alcopop!, one that will probably live in the memory for a long time. To those present, this band and everything it brings means a lot, and there’s a real camaraderie that comes with it. There was even cake!

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