It’s a Sunday night. Yes, a Sunday. Usually, I would be safely tucked up in bed by now but tonight I’m knocking back the 5.6% beers and really hoping I don’t miss the last bus home as I’ve a meeting in the morning with Procurement about a new Incident Management system. Teleman have none of these worries and it shows. Their only concern is what time to get out of bed and head over to Nottingham for their next gig. This carefree, nonchalant attitude is quickly evident as Thomas Sanders almost apologetically opens with “I guess we may as well start then?” even though the witching hour of 9.30 is still a good five minutes away.
The demographic Teleman appeal to is not immediately obvious; there is rag-tag collection of students, middle-aged ‘Later‘ aficionados and in front of me, a man in a pastel pink shirt which would, sadly, have been frowned upon at any gig prior to 2003. The colourful theme of the evening continues as the band launch into ‘Tangerine‘ and several dozen heads start to gently bob and weave in front of me. This is how to enjoy the live Teleman experience, with a calm and serene appreciation.
Their most recent album Brilliant Sanity has been out for a full six months now; I enjoyed it, in fact I said as much HERE so the lads are already pushing at an open door by the time they have hit ‘English Architecture’ and yet something just doesn’t feel quite right. It’s certainly not the environment, The Cookie is always a welcoming venue and the place is packed full of other Procurement-dreading middle managers. There is nothing wrong with their music either; perhaps the vocals are a little lost in the over-zealous keyboards though that’s hardly a heinous crime in itself, but other than that Teleman are a competent live act. Their USP is the ability to carve out neat, melodic tunes with neater angles than my Sixth Form dovetail joints and probably twice as robust. Take ‘Superglue’ for example, it happily waddles on at it’s own pace and just occasionally stops for a breather before embarking on the next leg of its journey; it’s the musical equivalent of a Sunday afternoon trip to an arts and crafts fair. You know it’s harmless and worthwhile but you just want that little bit more.
Therein lies my problem, I think. Teleman are never going to be a band to inspire unequivocal devotion in their supporters; they are an act to admire and nod sagely at every once in a while. I can’t have been the only poor sap to smirk inwardly as they played ‘Glory Hallelujah’ on a Sunday evening but for every note perfect key press or chord change I’m just frustrated at how nice everything is, including the audience. We are way too polite. Then, wholly against the grain, out comes the mnemonic ‘I’m Not In Control’ underpinned by a driving, hypnotic Krautrock backing and gnashing guitars which leads seamlessly into ‘Düsseldorf‘, the big crowd pleaser. Suddenly, there are people dancing, even the guy in the pink shirt has got a sweat on. This is what I want from Teleman live, to see them cut loose and entertain, play fast and loose and to hell with the consequences. Finishing your set with the lightweight froth of ‘Cristina‘ was never going to fire me up for my Monday morning showdown.
I scuttle off to catch the last bus in a state of confusion. Was this good or bad? Was it me or them? Will I ever go out on a Sunday evening again? If a gig is an amalgam where we all bring something to the party then, if truth be told, we were all slightly off-key and in Songs of Praise mode, reverential rather than devotional.