How often can you say you get a CD with the price of entry? In an individual fabric pocket no less, handmade by the headline act's front woman?
Exactly. But there was more to Private Life's single launch than just a heartfelt trinket. Beginning with some solid support acts.
When AMR last caught Neighbourhood Youth, they were the opening act for the excellent I, A Man launch, now they have a few new tunes up their sleeve after recently returning from a trip overseas.
Still based around solid hooks and smooth verse/chorus changes, their newer material shows they've been honing in on their elements. Namely, echoing guitar riffs on the upper register of the fretboard, a particularly wired rhythm section and John Philip's earnest voice. Unfortunately, it's a struggle to hear him over the punch of the guitars. Neither the loud volume, nor the mix, do them any favours. The only other concern being that they still lack a strong visual presence with only bassist Sam Nathan looking like he's really getting into it.
Their tunes however, are strong enough to make up for such gripes. One newbie reminds of Last Dinosaurs' zippy guitar rock with similarly speedy drum rolls and a melodic bassline that shifts smoothly around a simple but evocative two chord progression.
They finish strongly with the duo of 'Stone' and 'The Only One,' as the close of their set is met with pockets of girls swaying jubilantly to their barrelling rhythms and choppy guitars.
Taking to the stage without a word shortly after, Private Life waste no time getting straight into their pop-orientated dance rock. The core duo of Renee Cassar and Jamie Barlow is expanded to a five-piece unit for the live setting, including a very meaty dual Roland synth set-up to side of stage, key to the band's eighties-tinged sound.
Cassar's guitar and Barlow's popping bass sit tightly alongside the tidy, professional drumming of one Josh Barber, while the guitar stylings of Nick Lam, (looking like a younger Jimmy Barnes - check shirt, headband and all) provides some Strat-shredding highlights to the set.
They sound well-oiled, and in early tune 'The Other Side,' passionate; you can even see the veins in Cassar's neck as she strains in order to give the necessary yelp to her singing. There's a new wave flavour to Private Life's grooves, helped in no small part by Cassar's ending her phrases with a characteristic curl, a trick she thankfully doesn't overplay.
Her voice is akin to Debbie Harry's seductive sneer, but wrapped in the bubbly adventure of The Grates' Patience Hodgson. Essentially, a very strong mix that provides the bridging gap between their jerky eighties reference points and a more contemporary dance rock edge. As she patters a tambourine in (short) shorts, she also gives the band a strong focal point.
As the next cut sees her vocals slithering across a dotted synth line and an equally slinky rhythm section, it's clear she's having a ball. Even when the crowd fails to match the band's rising energy, encouraged to dance, she's still all smiles between-song.
Their set is filled with more than a few memorable choruses, notably 'One More Taste' as it bounces off its disco backbeat and leather-clad guitars and 'Lego' again recalls The Grates with a peppy energy and naive charm.
Meanwhile, 'Any Tuesday' could pass as post-punk if it wasn't for the deliberately antiquated keyboard sounds that dance across the wiry guitars; before diving head-first into a crunchy coda launched by a refrain of 'you stole the love right out of my heart.'
They provide a darker twist to their set with 'Honeymoon.' Starting slow and moody before breaching a chorus that sees Cassar singing 'the honeymoon is over.' More accurately, wailing, turning a potentially clichéd line into something emphatically desperate as its smeared with loose timing across an unsettling riff.
Smartly, they move straight back into another dose of upbeat eighties-via-indie rock with 'Black Heart.' A tune that'd give Duran Duran, or more accurately Ladyhawke, a run for their money in the pop smarts economy.
The final leg of their set includes the pairing of their (Unearthed featured) tracks, 'Run Run' and the single that tonight's launch is for - 'Follow The Sun' - which possesses a mix of dark swagger and nervous energy. But not before Cassar and bandmates request a photo of the crowd holding up their handmade cds for a final memento.
Private Life are certainly heading in the right direction for wider exposure, possessing a neat set of tunes with enough pop nous and radio-friendly charm. They may not possess a singular, killer track yet, but you get the impression they're not too far off. Here's hoping they keep at it.
RUN RUN by Private Life
Private Life - Follow the Sun by Private Life