Dan Tompkins/Dan Weller’s In Colour pack The Black Heart with mature, progressive-pop vibes
It can be difficult to convey to a non-Londoner what a monstrous pain in the hole a tube strike can be. Just the normal working commute is bad enough getting home from a night out without a fully functional tube is either hugely time-consuming, ruinously expensive or flat-out impossible. This can be catastrophic for attendance levels at small, pay-on-the-door gigs.
So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I picked my way across the what remained of the capital’s transport network towards Camden to see a rare live performance from In Colour. Even with the calibre of the names involved, just how many people would make the trek out to see them?
Fortunately, my fears were ultimately proved to be unfounded, and the room was just about full as the five piece In Colour live band and their substantial array of equipment squeezed onto the tiny stage.
Prior to their appearance were two largely superfluous support acts. The first played some frankly dreadful jangly indie, and the second was competent but derivative 90′s alt-rock. Neither band brought in an appreciable number of punters, nor did their music particularly complement In Colour’s. So we shall say no more about them.
This was the third time since October I’ve seen Dan Tompkins perform, and each time was with a different project: the first being October’s Skyharbor show in Milton Keynes, and the second the White Moth Black Butterfly album release show in November. Dan’s post-Tesseract career is nothing if not varied, but In Colour definitely sit closer to White Moth than Skyharbor on the sonic spectrum – yet they remain a very different proposition nevertheless.
The band was originally formed by guitarist Dan Weller and keys player Ciaran Cahill. The uninitiated may be surprised to learn, especially given Dan Weller’s past with tech-metal godfathers SikTh, that there’s nothing remotely metal about In Colour. Instead, we are treated to about 35 minutes of what can best be described as progressive pop.
The sound is polished and mature, and the tone feels positive and uplifting – mostly underpinned by thumping drumbeats. Dan Weller’s contributions are more textural, not far removed from Keshav Dhar’s White Moth guitar work, although he does squeeze in the occasional understated solo. The songs are largely driven by Ciaran, who, mostly obscured behind his bank of keyboards, spends the set clearly lost in the music.
Dan Tompkins has his own little bank of gadgets at his disposal as well, presumably for vocal effects and spends a substantial proportion of the set in the upper registers of his range, delivering the near-faultless performance we’ve now come to expect from him – but those high expectations make it no less captivating.
The overall sound is rich and large enough to fill a venue many times bigger than this cosy little room. Interaction with the crowd is minimal, presumably because the band are conscious of the difficult journeys home the crowd are facing, and plough through the set.
In Colour’s sound is so divorced from that of the bands in which The Dans have made their respective names it is hard to predict how well received it is going to be by their existing fanbases. Anyone expecting spazzy tech-metal is going to be supremely disappointed: this is more Pet Shop Boys than Periphery, more Faithless than The Faceless – but, without question, In Colour’s music stands firmly on its own two feet; they convincingly prove that pop needn’t be a four letter word.
As the band slip into the gorgeous single “Listen To The Rain” to close the set, I depart to embark on an ultimately futile quest to get home before the tube network closed completely, but even with the extra travel hassles and relatively short set length, In Colour were certainly worth the trip.
With the long-awaited album and the promise of more live dates in the coming months, expect to hear more from In Colour soon. So long as you don’t go in expecting breakdowns and shrieking, you may well find them to be a most pleasant, soothing surprise.