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People in Planes - Water Rats, London, 5/2/2009

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 19 / 2 / 2009

People in Planes - Water Rats, London, 5/2/2009


Despite being placed fourth on a bill and having recently lost their EMI deal , Anthony Dhanendran finds that Welsh electro rockers People in Planes still have much to shout about in a set at the Water Rat's in London

Fourth on the bill – and a 7pm start to your set – at London’s small Water Rats venue is not usually considered an auspicious setting for a gig. Certainly not enough to warrant the number of people who’ve come here tonight to see Cardiff’s People in Planes. But then People in Planes are no ordinary Welsh band. Eight years and three albums in they have already been through the EMI grinder and come out relatively unscathed, and are now in the strange position (just ask Gavin Rossdale) of being better known in the USA than over here. Their music has been used on several American television shows and on advertisements, and both of their recent albums have made the Billboard new artists’ chart. That would explain why there’s a smattering of record label and music press types at the Water Rats for what would otherwise be a low-key gig. 'Beyond the Horizon', the band’s most recent album, was released in September on the American metal-light label Wind Up. Tonight they compile a short set that begins with a couple of tracks from the recent record. The sound of People in Planes is, at first listen, something of an anachronism, distilling bits of Muse and early Soulwax along with labelmates Evanescence. They lack the breathy power of Muse leader Matt Bellamy’s voice, but then they also lack the whine of Evanescence, which makes up for it. The sound seems to belong to the late 1990s or the early part of this decade, but the band are tight and taut, the sound loud and powerful. They’re tuneful, too, and their synthesiser-heavy backbeats lead to something that’s perhaps not quite danceable, but it’s close. Guitarist Pete Roberts’s silver-plated Gibson Flying V guitar, an ‘axe’ much beloved of 1980s hair-metallers, gives an indication of where he’s coming from, though. 'Last Man Standing' and 'M’aidez', both also from the new album, continue things in the same vein. 'Pretty Buildings', again off 'Beyond the Horizon', is a much lighter song, with all the emphasis on the vocals, wispy keyboards and gentle, brushed drums, at least until the rest of the band kick in about half-way through. After this a roadie (also not something you’d expect from a fourth-on-the-bill band) appears from stage left to change singer Gareth Jones’s guitar. 'That’s Barracuda', which Jones introduces as “kind of an old song” is the only song they play tonight not from the new album, and it’s a little more indie and less rock than the others, the vocals almost recalling Britpop no-hopers Ocean Colour Scene at times. They return to the present for closer 'Vampire', which is grungy and has a 1980s-alternative feel to it. People in Planes, on this showing, have the potential to make an impact in their home country – their record company certainly thinks so. Their music may not be anything groundbreaking but it’s catchy and tuneful. Expect to see much more of these guys.

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People in Planes - Water Rats, London, 5/2/2009

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People in Planes (2009)
People in Planes - People in Planes
In his 'This Metal Sky' column, Jeff Thiessen finds Cardiff alt. rock band People in Planes' attempt to break into the mainstream with their recently reissued second album, 'Beyond the Hoizon', unsatisfying

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Last Man Standing (2009)
Excellent new single from Cardiff-based five-piece People in Planes, which combines its blues-rock sound with a more modern and commercial style

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