Klaxons | Pop review

Village Underground, London

New rave may still be out there somewhere, but it's not on the guest list tonight. Klaxons, the Mercury-winning leading lights of the genre, have turned their backs on it and are now, they tell us, an alternative rock band. Being forced to rewrite their second album when their original effort was rejected by their label implies the switch may not have been entirely voluntary, but tonight, at least, they are making the best of it. There's nothing half-hearted about the eight songs they introduce from the new album, Surfing the Void.

There was always a kernel of guitar-rock in Klaxons' music, and it has simply been brought centre-stage. It's big guitars and big drums all the way, starting with the opening Flashover, which is semi-familiar to the jam-packed house after being streamed on the band's website. There's a bit of genre-crossing in Flashover – you could almost mistake the majestic cresting-and-falling melody line for prog rock if it weren't for the sprightly choruses.

Same Space lumbers heavy-footedly, and though the audience politely jig along, if Klaxons were to drop one of the new songs from next month's Reading and Leeds set, this should be it. Valley of the Calm Trees is closer to what fans were hoping for: powered by James Righton's spaced-out keyboard twiddles and vocal harmonies that sound as if he and bassist Jamie Reynolds have drunk a Red Bull too many, it provokes hands-in-the-air dancing, and a lone man crowd-surfs.

The new numbers are tough, concise and built around fairly memorable choruses, but it's impossible to predict whether they will restore Klaxons to their 2007 heights. The Shoreditch-based band are so full of beans that Reynolds bawls: "We're the Klaxons, from around the corner!" Given the wild enthusiasm that greets the old hits Golden Skans and the rave-until-dawn Atlantis to Interzone, Klaxons' reinvention of the rock band may not be as successful as they hope.

At Leeds festival, 28 August (leedsfestival.com) and Reading festival, 29 August (readingfestival.com).


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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