Lifesigns Hit The Borderline

A formidable show from two deserving bands.

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Maybe it’s the hectic pre-Christmas schedule that’s to blame, but the venue’s hardly packed when Tin Spirits crisply run through an all-too-brief set.

They’re fast becoming a quirkily beguiling live band, with material from both of their albums providing substantial, tasty drive.

There are a few more present for Lifesigns, but again there’s plenty of room to avoid rubbing shoulders. A shame, because this band have developed into a formidable live act. Led by the urbane John Young, the temptation might well have been to have his keyboards swamping everything, but he uses his skills to accentuate the mature musical dexterity of the songs, helped by a significant band of quality performers.

Niko Tsonev is the sort of guitarist who never uses his obvious virtuosity as a springboard into a series of mindless solo excursions – everything he does is to enhance the composition. Drummer Frosty Beedle is firm, energetic and expansive, but it’s bassist Jon Poole who holds it all together. Effectively fronting the band, the Cardiacs man acts as a focal point. His persona is joyful and expressive, his playing suits what’s required, and he also has a distinctive voice that fits in neatly alongside the singing of both Young and Tsonev. Having a trio of more than competent singers gives Lifesigns an extra dimension live.

None of this would really matter if the material was poor. Thankfully, there’s an inherent melodic quality to the band’s songs that is always right to the fore. You can hear this when they glide through Voices In My Head, At The End Of The World and Carousel. The way in which over-complication is avoided when it comes to instrumental arrangements shows the way a band can be sophisticated while never yielding to the cause of being elaborately fussy.

Lifesigns have a laid-back attitude that comes across with a certain self-effacing bonhomie. It makes them warmly appreciated here, and ensures an enthusiastic reaction. But if this band are to become any bigger, they need at least one sparking song that can propel them forward. Right now, everything is on one level, and perhaps the lack of drama mitigates against the band being able to realise their obvious potential. However, they are entertainingly worthwhile.

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021