2012 sees The Presidents of the United States (or PUSA as they are affectionately known) return to their career carving debut album with a number of shows based around that record. Recently, and completely unprompted, I thought it would be fitting to take a reflective look at that album and produce an article for the sacred pages of Uber Rock. Imagine my surprise when, following that retrospective, we were unexpectedly offered a single place on the guestlist for the forthcoming London show at the HMV Forum, which I humbly accepted. Some call it karma.
Personally, I'm almost bored shitless of the whole "[insert classic album here] in its entirety" sets going around these days, fuelling the sick obsession with rock-based nostalgia, almost sealing the music-critic snobbery and hollow "rock is dead" pages (well, actually we're in an ironic age where the question must instead be asked - "is rock dead?" Thanks to the misplaced, and frankly shit, middle of the road music coverage in The Guardian for that one). I love revisiting old albums, of course I do, but I want something more from a live show. Maybe I'm just not old enough yet or, like many who contribute to this website, I am actually interested in new music, by bands both old and new. Or perhaps I just like to be surprised and excited by entertainment. Or maybe I'm just pissed off because of this fucking annoying child that's sat in front of me on this late fucking train. "Where are we going in granny's car?" "Off a fucking cliff you little bastard!"
But I have to hand it to PUSA, they did surprise me. I did wonder how they were going to convert such a short snappy album in to a full headline set. I guessed they may tag a couple of songs on to the end, but to actually begin with a range of great tracks from other albums was a fun, and unexpected way to kick off the show. So much so, that by the time Kitty came around, the show didn't really feel like an "album in its entirety" show at all. They kicked off with 2004's 'Love Everybody', and hammered delightfully through a selection of songs. But of course, the show really was still about the album, and they tackled it with as much fun as it was back in its day, and with these times we're living in, maybe this album is a timely lapse from reality.
As they powered through 'Lump', meandered through 'Peaches', drove in a 'Dune Buggy', and lived up the irony of 'We're Not Gonna Make It', my vision began to cloud. Something fragmented was washing over me. I closed my eyes and I could see, touch and smell the walls of my old local back at home, but somehow it was all quite pleasant. Fuck me, I've been nostalgialised.
A quick break in to the excellent 'Jennifer's Jacket' exploded the myth, and from there they offered up superb renditions of 'Mach 5', and 'Supermodel'. With everything PUSA touching turning to gold tonight they broke out in to their version of The Buggles' 'Video Killed the Radio Star' which only served to fuel the party atmosphere. It worked, just like everything else they did tonight. As a band PUSA are phenomenally tight, and they hit every accent, every note seemingly perfectly. And for such an energetic band, that is some accomplishment, but a band like PUSA could never work if they were not that good at it. Their encore aired yet more variety, including more hits from their second album, II, in the form of 'Froggy' and 'Supermodel'.
Tonight's show was excellent, and the fully crammed HMV Forum was bouncing from wall to wall. I understand that promoting the performance of an album is good for the wallet, and at best I hope it really is more about producing something that is bonding and unique; something where everyone can bathe in the collective goodness. And yeah, maybe it's true that many of the shows we most love are filled with great slabs of nostalgia, singing along to the songs that made us who we are. Whatever the case, I may be bored with the concept, but tonight was a fucking peach.
To pick up your copy of 'The Presidents of the United States of America' - CLICK HERE