ATREYU+ Norma Jean+ He is Legend. Astoria, London. 16.05.04

Bands always disappoint. You can wait in shivering anticipation for a tour like this to come around only for rockstars to act like rockstars and Americans to be just like Americans.

But He is Legend are a revelation, by the end of a short set played by men dressed like tramps, dancing like fools, the Astoria is converted. Shake that thing!

Norma Jean have replaced a singer and added a grungier element to their sound but haven't missed a beat. They fill the stage with tantrum dancing and flying guitars, the sound- screams and hooks riding a death rattle wall of feedback- fills the room. NJ make the show feel like the tiny club dates they're used to playing, it feels like cathartic brilliance.

Atreyu disappoint. Members of the band could be seen before doors taking pictures of the blacker than black queue stretching round the venue, almost as if they themselves couldn't quite believe they had managed to get this big. And on tonight's evidence their success will need way more blind luck to continue.

From first track proper, 'Bleeding Mascara', the sound is the worst of the night and barely improves. The technical touches of 'Deanne the Arsonist' and 'The Crimson' are lost, leaving only straight ahead mosh behind.The band plough through a lacklustre performance pulling all the right moves but seemingly finding no joy in them. Even synchronised guitar moves, party tricks and a cover of 'You Give Love a Bad Name' seem forced a little old. And wearing all white is the oldest gag in the book for bands so often dressed in black.

Atreyu are heralded as leaders of a scene, one of the few that will continue when fashions change but tonight they were outplayed, outclassed and simply undone by bands that are still hungry for that headline slot.

I hope Atreyu were nice to people on the way up.

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