Booked in for a two night run of sold out Levee Club shows on the week of their album launch for Brilliant! Tragic!, an evening with Art Brut kicks off with Great White Shark, who are fairly new and making a name for themselves after getting together and moving over from the UK only a few months ago. The band express a depth of feeling through their music while not being shy to sing catchy melodies or let their drummer wig out for a crashing denouement.
The night officially begins when Art Brut arrive one by one and play the opening bars of ‘Paradise City‘. Eddie Argos lollops onstage with a twinkle in his eye and his dimple catching the light just so, and with a “ready, Art Brut?” the band changes tack and launches straight into ‘Formed A Band’ – a life philosophy which Eddie preaches throughout the night. After performing ‘Summer Job’, Eddie jokes that they wrote the song quite a while ago, so if you do have a job, just hold onto it. A rowdy rendition of ‘Bad Weekend’ inspires Eddie to appeal to everyone to go home and start a band, because his heart was broken when he went to the record shop and only found DVDs and computer games. Pointing out groups of people to be in bands together, he tells them what to play: “you, you, you and you. Guitar, vocals, glockenspiel and keyboards”.
It’s fitting that Art Brut have a dedicated song to DC Comics, because the impression of the band performing live is of a gaggle of comic book cartoon characters come to life, who have the duration of the set list to freak out as much as possible. The band never stop smiling, waving their arms at the crowd, or their exaggerated singing along (even without a mic, which is always a good sign). Freddy Feedback is a guitar-wielding Powerpuff girl come to life. Eddie leaps in the air quite alot, and at one point attempts to skip with the microphone cable (he makes it to three). Art Brut even remain good-natured when they ask for obscure requests and everyone shouts ‘Emily Kane’. As playful payback they launch into their new single ‘Unprofessional Wrestling’, but are gracious enough to perform the hit later on.
During ‘Modern Art’, Eddie takes an improvised storytelling tangent, which includes taking an elevator down, and manages to get the entire venue to act this out with him. We’re all hunkering on the floor as he crouches and brings the volume down to a whisper: everyone is sitting down and it’s silent, in the middle of an Art Brut gig. The whisper builds to a sudden crescendo and Eddie leaps in the air, everyone erupts off the floor and the crowd goes wild – clicheed as it may sound, it works. The music crowd for shows in Germany can sometimes hold back on showing their enjoyment, but Art Brut bring sheer joy, stage-diving, and the feeling that makes you want to run home and pick up a guitar, or at least put on one of their records to relive the experience again.