The Dandy Warhols @ O2 Academy, Bristol, 20/05/2016

The Dandy Warhols (Portrait 1 - 2016)For many bands from the 90s, the intervening 20 years haven’t been too kind. With notable few exceptions, the two decades since has seen the great music stars of the decade begin to lose their edge. Alex James has become an award winning cheese farmer, and is now palled up with David Cameron. Meanwhile, the latest Stone Roses release feels like listening to the musical manifestation of middle age. At their gig at the O2 Academy tonight, The Dandy Warhols prove themselves an exception.

Arriving late, the band starts with “Be In”, the opener from their second album, Dandys Rule Okay. After the long brooding intro, the grungy riffs kick in, accompanied by a heavy drum beat and Jordan Taylor-Taylor’s drawling vocals. 22 years later, their sound still hasn’t lost its caustic edge. Three generations of Dandy Warhols fans start dancing.

"Happyness" has done well to warm the crowd up. Baggy clothes and star-shaped spectacles gave the support a throwback aesthetic to go with their retro sound. The audience was thinly scattered and, for the most part, dead sober when "Happyness" began.

This isn’t the case by the end of the night, with Taylor-Taylor declaring that “I hope none of you drove tonight - it’s gonna be a late one.” It's one of few interactions from the front man, with the band instead choosing to focus on powering through the packed set list. Of all those on stage, Zia McCabe seems to engage the audience the most, mainly through her robust tambourine bashing and maraca shaking.

The set is a near-exhaustive mixture of their greatest hits and new material, peppered with a few deep cuts. “Bohemian Like You” and “We Used to be Friends” - the bands’ two most iconic tracks - form a one-two punch towards the end of the set. By the end though, it’s Zia left on stage, as the band make a low key exit. A keyboard outroset closes the gig, providing a slow come down to the night.

The Dandys don’t seem to do much more than the bare minimum: the audience engagement is kept to a sparse patter, they arrive late to the stage and leave without an encore. But by and large, this is enough for the crowd. On the sheer strength of the music, and their stubbornly youthful stage presence, The Dandy Warhols play a solid, though unremarkable, set.

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