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Culture Reviews
By Alex Meredith
As far as I am aware, there are two bands in the world called “Spektrum” On the evidence of last night’s concert at Tinkhoff, that is at least one too many. Not expecting the best band in the world, it would have been satisfying to see this South London outfit use this performance to put in a claim to be at least the best Spektrum in the world. Sadly there was nothing in this display from this featherweight British fourpiece to knock out their only challengers for the crown, the aging Swedish progressive rockers, who, if the Brits’ record company have any compassion, should be left with exclusive rights to the name before the year is out.

Tragically, it is not like the British end of the Spektrum ever had a chance. From the start of the first song to the end of the barely requested encore, it was as though they were playing with a man short. It did not take long to identify the source of the black-hole in the Spektrum sound – where was the lead guitar? Obviously not every group needs a lead guitarist but when you are attempting a lively rock-based, post-punk vibe then its absence seemed a fatal omission. Trying to recreate the angry, energetic effect of the 70’s hard-hitters with just a keyboard and a bass is like asking Hugh Grant to play Hannibal Lector; only less amusing. Though Spektrum may claim that they produce an unclassifiable electro-rock sound that doesn’t need the oomph of a 6 string, the truth is that without it, this sort of unengaging mishmash actually finds itself filed very easily - in the bin.

This said, the band does have individual talent. The bassist pulsed a menacing beat through the sterile atmosphere of Tinkoff, presenting a seated audience with at least the first part of an argument to dance. Sadly the tempting suggestion could never be followed through by the tunes which, relying heavily upon electronics, were lacklustre and repetitive. Even the jack-in-a-box energy of singer Lola Olafisoye couldn’t tempt the crowd to their feet. In a valiant attempt to instigate some participation the powerful vocalist resorted to a sortie to the tables, meeting head-on the challenge of her lethargic after-work audience. However, I’m not sure even this seasoned performer was prepared for what she came face to face with on her walkabout. The enthusiasm of one admirer had her clambering back on stage as quickly as you could say disco-punk-electronica.

Obsession is no laughing matter. But it must be especially terrifying when it takes the form of a 120cm, 200 pound female fan, who’s been on the wrong end of Tinkoff’s legendary ales for a good few hours, heading for you at full speed without fear of the consequences. On a deserted dance floor her low centre of gravity looked certain to be too much for the angular Olafisoye. Luckily, a deft sidestep took our heroine to safety whilst the hapless stalker wobbled around the arena performing a seizure-like dance routine that could only be described expressive. To her credit, Olafisoye ensured the show went on and even managed a touching waltz with her new friend before darting back up to safety. She did come down for a second wander later, but not before a mumbled “Has that large lady gone yet?” to the security guards. By that stage our exhibitionist had turned her attentions on a solid looking gentleman in a sophisticated white jeans-black shoes combo and the coast was clear.

Slightly distracted by this blossoming romance, my attention moved reluctantly back to the disappointing main event. There was still some hope that at some point the flashes of melody, when accompanied by Olafisoye’s full-bodied vocals would develop into something that wasn’t instantly forgettable. It was not to be. I left being barely able to remember a song, let alone a potential hit. One track that does stick in the memory was an interesting piece entitled “Giddy-up Horsey” which was supplemented by Olafisoye’s somewhat unladylike demonstration. The fact that this was described as “one of my favourites” by the lead may at least offer an insight into the band’s slightly skewed artistic direction.

Spektrum look good on stage and in their vocalist they have a charismatic and powerful leader. However, their music pushes you away with its unwelcoming mixture of imaginative yet uncomplimentary sounds. Without the introduction of more tangible tunes to the pieces they will remain hollow and dull. By working in a lead guitar I’m convinced that their music would be easier on the ear and may even persuade punters on to the dance floor whilst they still have control of their senses. Otherwise Spektrum may be best advised to take their newfound dumpy disciple with them on the rest of the tour, as her well-timed cameo may be the only thing that keeps audiences awake. That and a hope that the Swedes will be along soon.

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