There's a reason musicians are the way musicians are. Not everyone has the confidence or the desire to stand up in front of a crowd of onlookers and have everyone stare at you while you do your best to both display a talent and express an artistic work at the same time. It takes a certain personality trait. For some, its attention-seeking. A boisterous, "look at me, look at me!" attitude. For some its a strong desire to get a message across, whether its political or personal, they have something to say and want to be heard. For some, it could be a subconscious manifestation of a dark, self-loathing desire to be humiliated and embarrassed, like a hand-glider with a secret deathwish.
With Johnny Foreigner, it's quite possible they're just plain nuts.
At least that's what their stage show would have us think. Nearing the end of their UK tour in support of Hundred Reasons, both bands performed the launch night of Orange Slice Records' new monthly live music event at Edinburgh's Studio 24 titled Powerup.
In actuality, the Birmingham three-piece Johnny Foreigner put a lot of energy into their performance, which isn't too surprising considering the velocity and sense of hyperactivity that surrounds their music. The yelped lyrics from the guitarist are difficult to make out, amid bleeding speedy guitar licks reminiscent of early The Cribs and thumping bottom-heavy bass. The drummer has a stripped back kit, without many toms or cymbals, giving him room to tape a synthesizer to the bass drum to play during the (admittedly few and far between) quiet moments in the set.
All three are singers, but the bassist's softer, more melodic voice works well in contrast to the raw music, a juxtaposition that works well for The Subways, a fellow indie-punk three piece.
It would probably be insulting to call Hundred Reasons emo. For a start, they've been around long enough to see the birth of that scene and have made the decision to side-step any associations, and secondly, just because partially-melodic hardcore punk is mixed with pop-punk hooks and emotionally charged lyrics doesn't necessarily mean emo. You have to wear the clothes too.
The five piece played for a good 45 or 50 minutes with barely a pause for breath, squeezing in as many tunes as possible. This was obviously a boon to the die-hard fans, but to the rest of us, it was a bit too much, and not a good enough excuse to leave out interacting with the audience. The lead guitarist had some brilliant solo skills, and the bands tunes did sway as far as anthemic Aerosmith stadium rock to punky Hoobastank needling, but much of their tunes sounded very alike, and the long set simply showed up their lack of variety.
If Johnny Foreigner are a reinvention of The Cribs or The Subways, Hundred Reasons are a recreation of Lostprophets, but with a little bit less sing-a-longability.
The highlight of the set was the epic Falter, if they had just played 25 mins of their best tunes, this would have been a much more agreeable set.