The Brighton-based four-piece Clearlake have been going for seven years. In terms of current indie music, that makes them venerable elder statesmen. Although their production rate of three albums in those seven years is slow by current standards, where bands seem to turn out a supposed masterpiece every few months.

Despite their pedigree, they are here at the Islington Academy, supporting the Rifles, a band who promise much and deliver little. Clearlake, on the other hand, promise little and deliver a whole load of things. The first of their songs has them sounding like a low-rent Muse, which quickly morphs into a White Stripes/Strokes hybrid somewhere between the third and fourth tunes.

If these bands were cricketers, the White Stripes would be Kevin Pietersen – brash foreigners with English connections, showy technique and heaps of talent. Clearlake, on the other hand, come across like England’s struggling batsman Ian Bell. They have all the talent, much more so than many other bands, but it doesn’t always come together quite as they’d like.

That may be explained by the fact that they’re a man down tonight: “We’re usually a four-piece but we’re a three-piece tonight” explains front man Jason Pegg, adding: “It’s quite frightening.”

They’re also messing with the set list, treating tonight as a warm-up gig, which, in a sense, it is. Meanwhile, the experimentation continues in their search to pick up on what makes other bands great. For the track 'Widescreen', off the latest album 'Amber', Clearlake head back to Muse’s spiritual forefathers Radiohead, to startling effect.

Finally, the best song is saved for last. 'Let Go', a 2001 single, is faster and more punky, with shades of early Blur and even the Beatles (everybody’s spiritual forefathers) for good measure. In 2001, Clearlake were ahead of their time, but the then popular wisdom was that the guitar had had its day. But now guitars are back, and those old songs are still the best.














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