University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Live review: Tall Ships

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Nov 3, 2010

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Tall Ships

Tall Ships
Jam, Brighton
28 October 2010

 There is a lot to say about crowd reaction at live music events, the general onslaught of mobile phones and people taking photographs of themselves at gigs, unable to miss the “I woz there” facebook opportunity. But this aside, it seems to me obvious that if, in a relatively small venue with an intimate audience, the front row, your greatest fans, can’t shut up and listen then who will? Tall Ships were loud, so loud in fact that melodies were barely accessible and the vocals seemed to float above each song as if leaving the vocalist at their own will, completely off key and repetitive to the point of ineffective drone. The drums often fell into George of the Jungle style drum ‘n’ bass inspired rhythm and accompanied by the bass, made a strange back-drop to the indie/pop driven chord based collage patterns of meandering guitar.

‘Chemistry’ stood out, but I felt like too much was lost in the excessive samples and loop effects. The unassuming three-piece, clearly talented musicians and multi-instrumentalists, lacking the ego of many and sharing their few instruments, were swallowed into looped punches of sound and (verging on) naff, synth effects. I’m a big lyrics fan, and I fear this vital element was lost in the poor sound the band got that night; the production elements in their recorded material reveal tender, thoughtful vocals in quiet melodies that do slot well will the musical disjunctions, but this quality is nigh impossible live. 

They have gained many comparisons with bands such as Foals and the song structures definitely place them firmly in the ‘math-pop’ genre, but I couldn’t help but feel I was missing something and left wanting more at the end of their 45 minute set. They are currently setting off on tour around Europe so perhaps the sound will develop to match their on-stage energy.

Tall Ships are currently on their 2010 European tour and perform at The Barfly, London on 1 November. More information is available at

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