The Open have been doing the rounds this year; there has been no escaping them. They’ve supported The Vines, undertaken headline tours, played festivals in Scotland and England and now they’re on another UK tour. Tonight they’ve found Stoke-on-Trent – a tearful experience for anyone that has to undertake it, even once. Combining a year of what must be near-exhaustion and the “Stoke effect” would leave most bands soulless and dead when it comes to their on-stage performance – yet The Open still seem to be packed with the same drive and love for music that they’ve had ever since they burst in to the indie scene last year.
It does seem that most people here aren’t fans of The Open – just locals out for a drink with some live music before a club night starts. Playing to a crowd that aren’t your fans in an intimate setting can always be problematic. It’s not a festival and people are often less open minded, yet that doesn’t stop The Open who walk out to a less-than-rapturous applause. Kicking off on their usual form, the crowd seem to take longer to warm up than a British summer and, despite the fact that one man at the front dad-dances his little heart out, the rest of the crowd are limited to the occasional head nod and foot tap.
Front-man of The Open, Steven Bayley, is never one to interact much with the crowd. Normally it comes off as a set that is dedicated solely to the music with no time for fraternising but it does seem that The Open are, slowly, coming out of their shells with a “Nice one,” issued by Steven half way through the set. Somehow their intense style doesn’t come off as arrogant or timid as it should – but rather it adds to their appeal and performance in a way that almost doesn’t make sense. They look extremely comfortable in their silence and you can tell that their efforts are on their music.
Sadly, tonight, The Open fall short of the legendary marks that they themselves have been setting this past year. They are capable of much more than they put out tonight – but don’t let that fool you. The Open are still one of the hottest bands to come out of the 2004 indie boom. As nu-metal has died a death and garage rock seems to have quietened down it is the time for indie to storm the charts and whilst The Killers may, already, be charting high – it’s only a matter of time until The Open are everywhere; except, possibly, Stoke-on-Trent.