It's amazing to think how much THE COMPUTERS' (8) sound has developed in the two years since the release of their debut album, "This Is The Computers". Gone is the sub-two minutes hardcore of old- a sound that saw them playing support to GAY FOR JOHNNY DEPP and PULLED APART BY HORSES and, in its place, a sophisticated mix of rock-n-roll, blue eyed soul and Elvis (Costello or Presley). Their sophomore album which they're touring in support of, "Love Triangles Hate Squares" sees THE COMPUTERS well and truly stepping up to the job of headliners.
But first, the crowd needs warmign up and this job falls upon the shoulders of Cornish shanty-punks, CROWNS (7). With a small section of die-hard fans in the audience, they are made to feel right at home despite the venue being at around half capacity. Their fun, shout-along drinking songs quickly win over any members of the crowd who aren't familiar with them and on cuts like "Foreskin" their THE CLASH meets DROPKICK MURPHYS shtick provides a perfect warm-up before the main event.
With matching maroon suits and a Vegas style lighted backdrop, THE COMPUTERS certainly look the part, somewhat at odds with the tiny Deaf Institute. Vocalist and all around showman, Alex Kershaw quickly installs himself on top of the bar and spends the majority of the set there, walking up and down , crooning with inbetween song banter consisting of televangelical preaching of how THE COMPUTERS are here to save your soul. He seems dead set on getting everybody dancing, pulling out random members of the audience and coupling them up while chastising anyone caught not participating fully. While Kershaw is undoubtedly the center of attention with his natural charisma and wit, the rest of the band also seem to be having a great time liberally sprinkling tracks with organ solos and skits of "Surfin' Bird" and "When A Man Loves A Woman". Older material is scarce tonight with only "Rhythm Revue" and "Music Is Dead" from "This Is The Computers" getting an airing and nothing from "You Can't Hide From The Computers" is played but they manage to successfully integrate the songs into their new sound with clean vocals in place of screaming. Soon, it seems, their set is going to consist solely of material from their second album onwards. On the evidence of tonight though, this won't be a problem, despite the themes of love, lust and loss, the energy and fun is palpable and, if there's any justice, THE COMPUTERS will be playing venues double this size next time they come to Manchester.