Tonight has been a long time coming. This band have booked their tickets across the pond on three occasions now and every single time the anticipation here has been palpable but every single time Daryl Palumbo’s Crohn’s Disease has got the better of the man and his band. But finally tonight, London gets its beating heart (baby) kick-started by Head Automatica. And man does this thing begin like the greatest party ever.
The explosive riot-pop of ‘I Shot William H. Macy’, the hump and bump of ‘Laughing At You’ and the massive sing-a-long for ‘Solid Gold Telephone’ form an opening rally that could suck the sweat from this crowd’s pores were they not giving it up so freely. ‘Cannibal Girl’, ‘Lying Through Your Teeth’ and a storming ‘Graduation Day’ are given a particularly rabid reception but really every track is greeted like a long lost friend. It is however not all neon and glitter inside the Mean Fiddler.
Live, Head Automatica are a proper band; they spit and stomp and really put their instruments through it. And what comes out isn’t just candy-coated electronic tunes but genuinely bulging riffs and dirty beats. An amped-up version of ‘Please Please Please’ confirms that the boys onstage truly know how to rock, the blood-on-the-dancefloor shake-and scream of ‘Oxycotton’ wades with punk rock abandon through soul croons and hypnotic sludge and the people here for ‘Beating Heart Baby’ alone have already jammed their fingers in their ears by the time Daryl screeches through ‘K Horse’ like a demon.
No one really knows if the frontman is particularly on form, the capital hasn’t caught him onstage for years and years, but the stick thin singer is certainly ridiculously confident, a wildly animated, consummate showman and vocally deadly. And, while his giddy eyes and high-pitched giggles do suggest it’s something more than adrenaline powering him along, he is without a doubt the burning bright star of the show. If he does get better than this then the Glassjaw reunion tour can’t come soon enough.
With a closing cut of ‘The Razor’ Head Automatic are gone but London’s faith in them, England’s love for them is back. With a mighty vengeance.
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