Live Review:  Scouting For Girls // NX Newcastle, 27.05.24

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Scouting For Girls! The kind of band where you’ll know more of their songs than you realise. Their first, self-titled, album was released in 2007, and even for those who are too young to remember that year vividly, you probably heard their music at home, on the radio in the car, in shops, and on the music channels on TV. It’s engrained in our minds and culture just like music by Kaiser Chiefs or Kasabian.

Commencing their bank holiday show with ‘Heartbeat’, a hit from their first album, they start strong, as we were just waiting for the opportunity to hear Stride sing “she’s a pain in the arse” – so British! – and build anticipation for the other hits from their debut, which they do indeed.

Next, they remind us of how much we hate our jobs in the immediate follow-on ‘I Need a Holiday’ which pleads “how I hate this job, ‘cause the days do drag” and then implores us to “Cheer up cheer up, don’t be blue”. They’re safe, easy lyrics that apply to pretty much everyone (although, being a bank holiday, those that had the day off were likely trying not to think about work just yet), and the same goes for ‘I Wish I Was James Bond’, which is, at the time of writing, their fifth most popular song on Spotify.  The 007 themed song is just as harmless as the rest, with frontman Stride singing “I wish I was James Bond / Just for the day / Kissing all the girls, blow the bad guys away” Okay, maybe that doesn’t apply to everyone, but it’s just so light-hearted and lovable. The band have made a point of not taking themselves too seriously, and that their shows are supposed to be a laugh and a good night out. They don’t need to take themselves too seriously, whatever they’re doing is working.

 ‘This Ain’t a Love Song’, a single from their second album, Everybody Wants To Be On TV is so mundane in its message yet addictive in its rhythm and melody that it makes it impossible to dislike and extremely easy to shout ‘AND I’M A LITTLE BIT LOST WITHOUT YOU / AND I’M A BLOODY BIG MESS INSIDE’. That song is cathartic, particularly live.  All the ‘Posh Girls’ (also from their second album) in the audience were outed in a fun point-out-the-posh-girl moment, and then a point-out-the-least-posh-girl moment. Of course, this did not fall flat, and everyone had their fingers wagging somewhere.

They also played music from their most recent 2023 album, The Place We Used to Meet with singles ‘Glow’ and ‘Song I Can’t Forget’.  The latter has more of a dance-track feel to it, suggesting that the band are trying to reach a new audience by having a song which is more alike to those in the mainstream charts at present. The sound from the song that you “can’t forget” is “la da dee da da da da”. It’s a bit silly, especially when they’re getting you to call and response it. But is it catchy? It definitely grows on you when they’re singing it live. They haven’t lost sight of the band’s overall ethos. Although, the band did mention at this point that this recent release has been called their “sex album”. Now, that requires a bit more pondering.

Somewhere amongst all of this, the band manage to intertwine a cover of Busted’s ‘Year 3000’ and ‘I Wan’na Be Like You’ From The Jungle Book soundtrack. Both surprise tunes were executed perfectly and somehow slid into the show nicely– with a few surprised faces across the crowd. Back to their debut album again, we’re half-rocked and half-serenaded with a mashup between ‘Elvis Ain’t Dead’ and a cover of Elvis’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’. This was a lovely moment and showed of the flexibility of Stride’s voice.

Just before the final song, frontman, Stride brings out his phone and reads a message with a song request from a fan: the Monday night show happened to fall on the fan’s wedding anniversary. Stride jokes that, the song request (‘The Airplane Song’) was probably their main anniversary present, and didn’t want to take the risk of the fan not buying their partner anything else. But all jokes aside – the band, being so lovely, indeed play the couple’s favourite song. But only after spotting them right at the back – the frontman shouted “I wouldn’t have agreed to do the song if I’d known you were at the back!”. And so, the crowd parted and made way for the happy couple to descend to the front of the crowd. It was a sweet moment, and surprisingly not that cheesy.

Their songs are almost too catchy, and honestly, not many of their songs are that musically complex, but the alternative isn’t really who Scouting For Girls are. After all, their biggest hit “She’s So lovely” repeats the track’s name 21 times in the 3:43 song, but it’s not unheard of for popular songs to be repetitive (think “Around The World” by Daft Punk) All of their songs hold quite easy to follow rhyming sequences so that, even if you don’t know their songs, you can just about pick up any chorus: they’re simple, safe, and singable.

If you haven’t had the chance to see them this time round, I wouldn’t worry too much, as they’ve stated that they’d rather die on stage than retire. We’re lucky they love it so much because they’ve proven on this tour that they’re excellent and unfazed.

Words by Kai Palmer


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