Shortly after the release of 2010 debut Tourist History, you could barely move for the blasting of Two Door Cinema Club. The Bangor trio’s debut album made little sense on many levels: full of almost flippantly fast pop-rock singles, it was perfect quick-fire advertising fodder, released on a label based in France that had dedicated almost its entire history to dance music. It was so wrong, it was right; infectiously hooky, quotable, brilliantly naive. That hooky genius became such a strength that come 2012, Trimble, Baird and Halliday were selling out arenas as far afield as South Africa, while Trimble was the unlikely star of the London Olympic opening ceremony. In short, the Northern boys were intensely ‘of the moment’.
In a sense, it’s seemed like the trio have wandered slowly from the limelight since. Beacon – a sturdier, slower and less immediate release – was followed by time away from the stage. Last year’s Gameshow marked a change in direction entirely. So where do they sit now? In truth, for all that’s come before, the answer is not all that far from where they started. The similarities between tonight’s show and the post-Tourist History gigs in Pod back in 2010 are stark, with a growth in the professionalism of the set up (and, of course, new tunes) almost diluting that early buzz.
In fact, the very same intro and outro music they used in 2010 brackets the show, while there’s an abundance of tracks from that debut crammed into 75 minutes tonight, and relatively few from their latest. There’s an extra man on stage playing backing guitar, signalling the one real stand out in the way Two Door Cinema Club have developed: a kind of ‘stadium-ifying’ of both the sound and show that saw them break through so spectacularly in the first place.
That’s not to say tonight’s show is anything less than solid. The opening quadruplet of ‘Cigarettes in the Theatre’, ‘Do You Want It All?’, ‘Undercover Martyn’ and ‘This Is The Life’ still contain the same youthful energy that made them such memorable radio-fodder, and quickly kick things into bounce-along gear. ‘Changing of the Seasons’ flicks things into firmer, steadier territory, while ‘Sun’ and ‘Lavender’ shine live, like a younger version of the band have stuck on Jamiroquai’s entire back catalogue, absorbed the funk and spat it back out in slow-dance, hand-clapping indie form. It is noticeable, though, that the new songs seem to be very much Trimble’s: he’s all power gestures and strutting stage moves as the set morphs, while his sidekicks seem more absorbed by the basement-loving riffs of the band’s early days.
Trimble’s falsetto is almost flawless, incidentally. That vocal does seem to have become one of their core assets recently, with a power-pop vibe that sounds capable of stretching the band’s genre further. It feels like a period of transition, and given the added variety, this could be the step up to another level; it’s long been clear that Two Door couldn’t simply keep doing the same thing, after all. The brash boldness of their new sound would certainly suit bigger venues than the surprisingly compact Trinity stage.
Is it fair to tag a band this big as having been so much better in a club? Perhaps not, especially based on a show on a Monday night. That said, the Two Door Cinema Club of today are not the high energy youngsters they used to be. They’re more tight than spectacular.
Two Door Cinema Club photographed for State by Leah Carroll.