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Cheap Date live review...
Cutaways, Not Squares, Nakatomi Towers
Sometimes context is everything. As Nakatomi Towers stand on stage in the Black Box, not long after lunch time, they are greeted with the sight of an audience full of people munching on yoghurts. In many respects, this is not the ideal situation to consume the music of Nakatomi Towers, and the band struggle to address this situation. Taken out of their natural habitat - a club setting - the songs come across as mannered and tasteful, rather than electric and exciting. The band's material is nicely textured, and there's some great playing on display, but it somehow feels inappropriate for this time of day.

This sense of polite inappropriateness is shattered when Not Squares launch into their art-rock attack. Gurgling synths wheeze into life, a mass of wires and cables occupying the centre stage area. It rises in volume, before exploding into life in a flash of manic rhythms and bone shattering bass. If Nakatomi Towers suffered from a lack of context, then Not Squares seem intent on dragging us kicking and screaming into their territory. There is something so immensely physical about the sound they make, that it almost feels criminal not to dance.

Despite the fact that they don't really move too much, instead focussing intently on what they're doing, the band have an electrifying visual presence. Alternating between moments of heart-stopping intensity, and out and out hilarity (we are repeatedly urged to, "Release the bees"), this is a masterful performance, from a band completely in control of their abilities.

It almost feels like the building is still reverberating as Cutaways emerge on stage, flanked by their trademark cardboard birds. In their own way, Cutaways establish their own set of context by letting you know that we are entering into their world, and from now on we'll be playing by their rules. Unfortunately a few technical difficulties threaten to derail the set right at the very beginning, and this, coupled with the fact that band are playing a set almost entirely consisting of new material, leads to a sense of unease and uncertainty haunting the early stages of the performance.

But once they hit their stride, the band's natural charm begins to shine through, complimented by the strength of the new songs. Exhibiting a slightly darker edge than the more familiar older material, there's every suggestion that there's a whole new side to the band that they're ready to reveal. As if in a symbolic gesture, they give away the cardboard birds which have been a common sight to many over the past year.

One can only hope they found a good home, and are currently safe and well.

Steven Rainey

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Gig Details
Venue: Black Box
Location: Belfast
Date: 30/1/2010

+ Cutaways @ ATL
+ Nakatomi Towers @ ATL

Related Links
+ The Cutaways (myspace)
+ Not Squares (myspace)
+ Nakatomi Towers (myspace)