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Live Review: Major Tom & The Atoms, Red Rockets Of Borneo

19 June 2012 | 3:24 pm | Dominique Wall

Red Rockets Of Borneo are all about rock and want to leave you with no doubt about it. While there's nothing wrong with that, there is a problem when it (or even a portion of it) is overdone. So many songs start off promisingly, but die when the vocals kick in and throw everything off track. Trying too hard to be full of attitude and oh-so-rock, the vocal delivery just comes off as annoying.

With a name like Major Tom & The Atoms, you could be forgiven for expecting a Bowie-esque affair or even a Mod sort of sound (after all, Bowie was a mod at one stage). It turns out that they're all about “concocting an explosive brew of funky-tonk blues, spy-chedelic shoot-out tunes and howlin', growlin' jungle grooves.” Apparently. What is delivered, though, is a mess of pretentious twaddle. It's hard to miss the rather large backdrop “advertising” the band's website, and the fact that they have this (rather than just their logo or name) raises the pretentiousness a notch.

Tonight's gig, though, is to launch their debut EP, Shake It Til You Make It, and, logically, they start their set with one of the tracks from said EP, Merri Creek (Dead & Gone), followed by another EP offering, Rolling Stone. Some bands/artists ooze warmth and sincerity on stage no matter what style of music they play. Sadly, Major Tom & The Atoms are not one of these bands. Instead they come across as having all the charm and charisma of a used car salesman. This is made worse when the band decide to pogo during their song, Jack The Ripper. This might have worked had this been a punk song, but it sure isn't. The level of pretension is given another hike a little later in the set when Tom Hartney (ie Major Tom) announces that the next track, Last Dance Of The Lizard King, is “about a fantasy [he] had at Jim Morrison's grave.” Afterwards, Hartney announces that with the end of that track comes the conclusion of “the psychedelic portion” of the set. What they move into is only slightly more inspiring than the preceding numbers, being more of a blues-based group of tunes. They conclude their set with the EP closer, Mockingbird, one of the catchier tunes on offer tonight, and call it a night. With no encore in sight, a hasty exit is made.