Cranes | Circolo degli Artisti, Rome | 21 October, 2008

The Circolo degli Artisti is one of those small and sweaty standing-only venues where packed audiences are crammed into a tiny space and can almost touch the artists on stage – the perfect intimate setting for new and emerging musicians or more famous indie bands with cult status such as was the case with Cranes last night, on a European tour after a long hiatus to promote their new eponymously titled CD. The downside of the venue is that bands inevitably have to compete against the background drone of inane chatter from the people at the back who for mysterious reasons known only to themselves, have bought tickets for a concert but prefer to hang around the bar and talk all over the music! Romans, incidentally, win the prize for this – whether it be at concerts, the theatre or movies, shutting up and listening seems a major challenge in this city, so major kudos to Cranes who managed to quickly win over the entire audience last night. Admittedly, most people at the front where I was standing seemed to be hardcore fans and at times I felt conspicuous as a Cranes ingĂ©nue as they performed their classic songs to ecstatic cheers. I really enjoy going to shows as a way of discovering music that I don't actually know that well, however, and was so pleased that I'd been persuaded to go – Cranes are an amazing band to see live! I was completely won over by their fusion of jangly guitars and electronic pop - I was often reminded of Joy Division or New Order with a dash of Cocteau Twins – all held together by the ethereal vocals of the captivating Alison Shaw.

After playing two, maybe three encores – I actually lost count - they were immediately back out on stage after lights up to sign CDs, posters and chat and shake hands with fans. Great band, nice people – catch them if they're playing near you!