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The Ting Tings / May 22, 2008 / London (Astoria)
Like spreadable butter and Chinese capitalism, the Ting Tings are an idea whose time has come, even if not everybody is going to be happy with the end result.Like spreadable butter and Chinese capitalism, the Ting Tings are an idea whose time has come, even if not everybody is going to be happy with the end result.
This gig -- their biggest headline show to date -- offered a rare opportunity to witness a band at the exact moment they cross over into the wider public consciousness. So, while they were No. 1 in the U.K. singles chart with "That's Not My Name" (Columbia) and heading for the top slot in the albums chart with debut set "We Started Nothing," the venue isn't quite packed out and the minimalist stage set has yet to catch up with their glossy videos.
Meanwhile, the crowd was still largely composed of indie hipsters who caught the band on the NME Awards tour earlier this year, with the few Topshop-clad pop fans standing out even more than the hordes of rubbish frontwoman Katie White look-alikes (another sure sign of a band about to explode).
And, while the night's set struggled to replicate the pop mastery of the album, there's still more than enough flashes of genius to show just why people are sooo excited about this band. Live, they're like the White Stripes in negative, with White (no relation) the all-action, multi-instrumentalist frontwoman-with-the-most-mustard and partner Jules de Martino maintaining a detached but vital presence behind the drums (even when he's actually playing guitar).
Commendably, they didn't attempt to pad out the set beyond their limited repertoire, playing just nine songs in total and hammering out lithe U.K. singles "Great DJ" and "Fruit Machine" at the top of proceedings. The band's iPod commercial only aired in the U.K. for the first time the previous night, but "Shut Up and Let Me Go" and its update of the Clash's "This is Radio Clash" riff with some Blondie-style sass and spirit connected instantly, while the closing "That's Not My Name" finally had the pop kids and indie hipsters united in one big, messy sing-along.
They returned for a solitary encore of "We Started Nothing," ending in a haze of dry ice, bright lights and an almost Queen-esque sense of theater that hints strongly at the Ting Tings' future. Next time, you suspect, the venue will be bigger, the pop kids will over-run their alternative cousins and the stage set will live up to the tremendous pop vision displayed on the album. Great as they already are, these Tings can only get better.