Zutons Victoria Hall
As snow gently cascades outside, inside The Victoria Hall the figure of a giant letter Z ominously flickers into life before a desert backdrop, replicating the cover to recent album You Can Do Anything. However bone chillingly cold it is outside, you could easily imagine yourself basking in the embers of summer inside.
Thankfully The Zutons have developed into the epitome of a festival band and such enthusiasm may be vital tonight. That they open with 'Zuton Fever' should not be a surprise; habit dictates for its reward of establishing a vibrant atmosphere for all involved. Yet for how traditional the opening is, this a recently altered line up; recruiting an additional percussionist and replacing founding guitarist Boyan Chowdhury with Paul Molloy, not that you would notice with both sporting trademark Frank Zappa-esque facial hair. The end result is a more textured sound, one greater than the sum of its parts with each member contributing to the rapturous din. No real focal point stands out; if anything a partnership is in place with Dave McCabe being a rather timid front-man and saxophonist Abi Harding transfixing the many male eyes following her bouncing across the stage.
For the opening four tracks barely a break is included with the band preferring instrumental refrains to blend between songs. Upon concluding 'Pressure Point', McCabe peers from behind his shaggy locks and boisterously greets local adulation. Finally, the crowd decides to participate and it takes 'Always Right Behind You' to induce some real movement.
After the storm, comes the calm with a serene acoustic section, Harding providing saccharine to McCabe’s guilty vocals for 'Put A Little Aside'. Molloy then joins for an engagingly subtle version of 'Remember Me' and a heart thawing 'Confusion'. Whilst The Zutons can easily showcase the kooky, dark side of their repertoire, sections like these prove that they can do the sweet as well as the sour.
Aside from the acoustic section you tend to forget their addictively catchy singles with 'Don’t Even Think (Too Much)' and 'What’s Your Problem' turning the set up a notch. Time is ticking and with each bombastic crescendo making full use of the reverberating acoustics, you expect the band to walk off yet with energy like Duracell bunnies they remain. Only one song could fittingly allow the band to exit stage left. After the bastardised Amy Winehouse cover, lest you forget that 'Valerie' is a Zutons original yet it seems the band gladly receive the kudos.
Following a brief break, during which a scuffle breaks out in the crowd, the band return for an energetic 'You Will, You Won’t'. Wrapping up things nicely is the traditional closer and the imaginatively titled instrumental 'Zutonkhaarmuun'. As the fragrant reverbs of McCabe’s xylophone gently meek out there is merely time to introduce each band member and conclude a final intense breakdown before taking a well deserved bow. Alas, however warm The Zutons keep you in their company, the snow still falls outside.