Following the February release of their self-titled debut album, Theme Park’s gig at the Joiners Arms last Tuesday was the second in their eleven day tour.
They are already fairly established on the Southampton music scene, supporting the highly anticipated Bloc Party tour in their Guildhall date back last October, as well as appearing at the Joiners in early 2012. As a fan of the band since their foray into the music scene, my ticket was booked on the first day this tour was announced. So, with high expectations, my friends and I ventured into the Joiners…and were immediately met by the entire band relaxedly watching the football in the bar.
Unfortunately I missed the first support slot but the second band on the bill, LULS, took to the stage with as much enthusiasm as they could muster considering the heat (and the fact they were wearing very tight fitting leather jackets). Nevertheless, their set was energetic and fun, getting the crowd warmed up for what was to come. It must be said, I was quite surprised by this choice of support act as a warm up to the mellow, summery sounds of Theme Park; LULS are LOUD, but their enthusiasm was undeniably infectious and amusement was to be had in their request to the crowd to “buy our new single, legally or illegally, we don’t mind!”
Then, just after 10pm with big grins on their faces and a few beers between them, the trio took to the stage. Made up of Miles Houghton, Marcus Haughton and Oscar Manthorpe, one thing which can be said about Theme Park is their perpetual happiness. After launching straight into the funky ‘Ghost’, much to the delight of the crowd, my personal favourite ‘Jamaica’ was played and I commenced a rosé-fuelled dance, reminiscent of the kind my Dad throws out at family gatherings. The catchy beats of the first few songs had me set up for the rest of the gig and although the tempo was much the same throughout, for Theme Park this was no negative; their continuously uplifting choruses roused the whole crowd.
Most of the songs from their debut album were played, including a few lesser known, slower paced tracks such as ‘Los Chikas’ and ‘Blind’. As good as these may have been, the real crowd pleasers were still those released as singles or B-Sides. Looking around me, it was clear the crowd were enjoying themselves and as the night went on, the dancing also heightened in intensity. The band was so affable they had more of a conversation with the crowd than a dominating presence when lead singer Miles Haughton spoke, a persona which carried on when I met him offstage; it all just worked.
Finishing on the party vibe of ‘Two Hours’, the mood seemed to lift even more. It’s just a shame the audience’s cries of ‘encore’ fell on deaf ears: even if all their songs had been played, another run of ‘Jamaica’ wouldn’t have gone amiss (at least not in my books), and it was a sad thing that none of the cover versions off the Two Hours EP weren’t played.
What I loved most about the Theme Park gig (apart from their music, their genial nature and their funky tunes) was the infectious sense of happiness which seemed to emanate from the stage and into the crowd. I for one left with a big grin on my face; anyone who saw me later at Sobar would have heard me screaming, in response to being asked how the gig was, “Theme Park? They were SO fucking good!”