Athlete can still go the distance

AT some point in the last few years Athlete's popularity faded. I'm not sure when, but one minute they were supporting U2 and winning an Ivor Novello award for hit Wires and the next they were announcing a date in Ipswich and most people had half forgotten them.

Athlete

At the Ipswich Regent

Yesterday

AT some point in the last few years Athlete's popularity faded.

I'm not sure when, but one minute they were supporting U2 and winning an Ivor Novello award for hit Wires and the next they were announcing a date in Ipswich and most people had half forgotten them.

The thing about Athlete is they were so good just a few years ago, it only takes a quick reminder of their repertoire for you to forget they've been somewhat strangers to the music charts of late.

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At the Regent last night, the South London band rocked their way back in to favour while not disappointing the hardcore fans who've clearly been following their idols every step of the way.

Unsurprisingly, the crowd reacted best to the better-known tracks of Athlete's heyday.

Their winning hit Wires - from UK number one album Tourist - still gets a fair amount of airplay and live sounded beautiful.

Likewise, You Got the Style - from Mercury Award nominated debut album Vehicles and Animals - went down a treat with the packed crowd.

Half Light, Hurricane, Westside (you know the song that talks about the rock scene a lot) and Twenty Four Hours were also obvious crowd favourites.

I don't want to use the word bored, but a couple of their lesser-known tracks failed to keep my attention. Not to worry though, the band were fairly entertaining to look at, with lead vocalist Joel Pott - who has a terrific voice - looking every inch the front man despite being dressed coolly in plain jeans and a white t-shirt.

And I know I'm in the mainstream by saying I think their third album, Beyond the Neighbourhood, never lived up to its predecessors as the band tried more experimental songs.

Having said that, the closing track, the next single to be released, was a winner so while Athlete may not have lived up to expectations since supporting Bono and co. give credit where it's due.

The group may have been down for a few years, but they're certainly not out.

Athlete were supported by Boy Kill Boy, the English rock band popular on the festival scene and supported by Radio 1.

They gave an impressive set with signs it won't be too long before they can hold an audience like that at the Regent on their own.

The single Suzie, which went to number 17 in the UK singles charts, was accompanied by fresh and catchy new material.

HAZEL BYFORD

Athlete is made up of Joel Pott (lead vocal and guitar), Carey Willetts (bass), Stephen Roberts (drums) and Tim Wanstall (keyboards).

At live gigs, the band often invites guest guitarist Jonny Pitcher to perform with them.

The band have reportedly been friends since they were 14 years old.

Chances was used in the Russell Crowe film A Good Year and El Salvador is in the Zach Braff film The Last Kiss.

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