Shepherds Bush Empire
19th October 2005
What a difference a year can make. A year ago The Magic Numbers were just entering the studio to record their debut album, enjoying an ever growing cult following playing low key shows. Fast forward 12 months and the band have played every major festival, supported Brian Wilson, played a sold out tour of the UK and had their eponymous debut album nominated for the Mercury Music Award. Not bad for two sets of siblings from West London. Fronted by Romeo Stoddard, flanked by his sister Michele on bass, Sean Gannon on drums and his sister Angela (melodica and vocals), the ‘Numbers have been described as the feel good band of the year, combining a laid back west coast Mamas and Papas vibe (by the by the Mamas and Papas were once known as ‘The Magic Circle), and beautifully penned songs of love, heartache and loss.
As the lights drop in the Empire and the backdrop lights up the crowd seems to swell in anticipation, the roar that greet the band is deafening, and the band seem genuinely taken back by their reception. Tracks like ‘Love Me Like You‘, forthcoming single ‘Love’s a Game‘, and ‘Don’t Give Up The Fight‘ are sung back word perfect, album tracks have new life breathed into them on stage, Romeo’s one line quips to his sister and the genuine warmth you can feel rolling off the stage is enough to raise a smile of even the most sceptical audience members. Angela’s vocals on ‘I See You, You See Me’ brings goosebumps to your arms, clear lines sung back to Romeo. “I never wanted to love you, but that’s ok. I always knew that you’d leave me anyway..”..The songs border on melancholy, a great love lost but not forgotten, but it’s the upbeat turns and twists, that make the crowd’s spirits soar. The lyrics might be of heartbreak, but the hooks and chorus tell a different story.
A live version of their track recorded with The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Close Your Eyes‘ adds another string to their bow, ‘Gone are the Days‘ which was recorded for the Warchild album is a stunningly simple arrangement, whilst ‘Forever Lost’ has the crowd dancing, and looking around the packed venue, there are grins on every face in there, not least of the face of Romeo and Michelle’s father, standing proudly in the middle of the crowd, watching his children.
Their take on Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love‘ is nothing short of genius, ‘Mornings Eleven‘ introduces Anne Harrie on violin and her brother of harpsichord, bringing moments of poignancy and tenderness to the set, girls in the crowd appear misty eyed, but just as the tempo drops The Webb Brothers lope out on stage for a deafening rendition of ‘Wheels on Fire’, the harmonies soaring off the stage and under your skin.
As the last track ‘ The Beard Song‘ soars onwards and upwards, faster and faster, you can’t help but get lost in the music, the guitars soaring higher and higher, pounding off the stage and washing over you. All too often bands are hyped as the best new band, , sold to you as your new favourite band, and all too often, one foot out of the studio, the initial buzz wears off and it’s clear they’re not all that. But for The Magic Numbers, everything they say..well it’s true. Try as you might, there is simply no denying that these gracious, humble West London kids have really got something special, and with the nights drawing in and the cold winter upon us, they are the perfect ray of warmth, who needs Prozac when we’re got The Magic Numbers?
For further info check out www.themagicnumbers.net