The Walkmen – Central Methodist Hall, Manchester – 20th January 2011

Posted on February 3, 2011

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written for High Voltage

Since their inception at the turn of the millennium, The Walkmen have become known as an underachieving band, struggling to fulfill their early promise. Tonight they proved why success has thus far eluded them with a lacklustre and uninspired performance at the Central Methodist Hall in Manchester.

The Walkmen are, quite frankly, an infuriating act. Despite possessing many of the tools necessary to be a really good band, they, rather bewilderingly, choose to minimise their potential, with a chronic lack of artistic expression the source of their ills. The music has a seriousness and Hamilton Leithauser’s vocals are powerful and energetic, however, if a band fails to inject any creativity into their art then they inevitably end up falling short. The main culprit is Leithauser, who despite a clear vocal talent, relentlessly pursues the same melody on every track, leading to a sense of disillusionment for the listener.

That’s not to say that the night passed without highlights. The encore of The Rat followed by We’ve Been Had was rather impressive and proved that they do have something. However, the performance as a whole lacked a crucial element – good ideas. The problem for The Walkmen is that music is currently in very inspired hands, with many bands possessing the kind of brilliance that leaves a laymen transfixed, struggling to comprehend their genius. The Walkmen, however, underwhelm, emitting a remarkable sense of boredom that lingers long into the night.

It’s not as if they haven’t been afforded chances in the industry, with high-profile support slots with Vampire Weekend, Black Keys and Kings of Leon all coming their way. Failing to capitalise on these sorts of chances is unforgivable. The truth is that, after 6 albums and 5 labels, maybe it’s time for The Walkmen to accept their mediocrity and try their hand at something else. Technically they have it – creatively they do not.

words by Rob Pollard

photos by Sam Ellis

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Posted in: Music