Air Traffic - 53 Degrees Preston - 8.3.07

London / Bournemouth band Air Traffic are a long way away from becoming a household name but they're going the right way in making excellent decisions about their career. So far these ambitions lads have appeared on Later With Jools Holland and supported Snow Patrol on a couple of dates. It's no wonder EMI were eager to sign them so hastily.

Skinny frontman Chris on electric piano and lead vocal barely acknowledges the crowd. He's not being rude or ignorant. This guy is, to quote Sister Sledge literally lost in music. Air Traffic all play with sheer passion but chris is even more focused and intense than the rest of the band. Close your eyes and the quirky piano riffs could almost be Ben Folds Five. The more melodramatic moments mirror Muse. There are references to 70s rock, like the Feeling with balls. Perhaps appearing with Jools Holland has rubbed off on Air Traffic as we can quite clearly detect very occasionally a spot of honky tonk piano.

At times Air Traffic very nearly go the Keane route of emotive melodies and anthemic excess, but guitarist Tom Pritchard makes sure he puts a raw element of guitar solos to keep the fans rocking along tonight. During one unexpected moment, both the bass player and guitarist stand on opposite sides of the stage, expertly keeping the beat as both men use a single drum each, perfectly rhythmic as the regular drummer plays the synths. The last time Designer Magazine saw such instrument swapping in such as visually entertaining way was at a Beta Band gig.

"Last Chance" and "Time Goes By" are well performed, so slick and polished but thankfully not too the extent of going through the motions. This band love to play and although Air Traffic don't over do the jamming it's great to see them rework the arrangements. During the rockier songs, Chris straps on his guitar where his vocal becomes more cockney than on the ballads. The only time he chats to the audience is to introduce Air Traffic's new single "Charlotte" which has crunching guitars and a chorus worthy of The Kaiser Chiefs at their very finest.

Designer Magazine love the fact that's it's night on impossible to put a label on Air Traffic. Yes, they're a retro, rocky, piano led band with many strings to their bow but their last track "Just Abuse Me" could fit very snugly into any West End Musical. How many indie bands around today could pull off such a musical feat?

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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