The Last Shadow Puppets: Carling Academy

by Calum Fraser

Some people in life have a tendency to make you extremely jealous. Alex Turner is one of those gents. Not merely content in fronting one all conquering band, The Last Shadow Puppets brought their 60’s influenced pop to the packed Carling Academy on Wednesday evening. Not bad for a ‘side project’.

Turner, also of the Arctic Monkeys, shares frontman duties with Miles Kane, who counts being in The Rascals as his nine to five. The Last Shadow Puppets are a different breed entirely though, which is reflected in the audience, which could have easily have been populated with fans of their respective previous incarnations, however there is not an Arctic Monkeys tshirt in site.

There is no doubt that Turner’s previous success has propelled the Puppet’s profile, after all, this is a band that has only really existed for seven or so months. But the first surprise of the night is just how tight the group are, even with the 16 piece orchestra they have with them on tour.

There is a certain amount of indulgence in the whole concept, in the style and the presentation (I can’t imagine The Rascals being allowed to take an orchestra on tour), but there is so much pleasure to be taken from those indulgences that it is completely forgiven.

It is clear that both men are enjoying themselves throughout. Turner barely stops smiling and has much more interaction with the fans than he does in under his Monkeys moniker.

They open with ‘In My Room’ and race forward into ‘The Age of Understatement’ which sounds suitably grand. You get the very distinct feeling that the songs would sound very hollow without the soundscape of strings and horns.

The second surprise of the night is in just how good Kane’s voice is. Stronger than Turner’s, he is pitch perfect start to finish.

‘Calm Like You’ finds a whole new gear from the album version and is one of the best songs on the night. Unfortunately the pace begins to slow as the Puppet’s reveal a lack of extensive back catalogue. We get B-sides ‘Gas Dance’ and ‘Hang the Cyst’, neither of which would be in the set if their debut album had stretched to more than 30 odd minutes.

They further pad out the material with four covers, each carefully chosen by a band with a clear passion for the music they are influenced by. The Beatles ‘She’s So Heavy’ is unexpected and fantastic, Turner sheepishly asking afterwards if they ‘pulled it off’,  as is ‘In The Heat of The Morning’ originally recorded by Bowie.  Leonard Cohen’s ‘Memories’ and the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood duet ‘Paris Summer’ are more for the purists.

These are minor complains though, more greed than anything else, at their best The Shadow Puppets are better than just about anything else out there. They close with ‘Standing Next to Me’ which epitomises just how good they can be. With a second album planned for 2009, they could blow even the Arctics out the water.