Theme Park


I’ve seen Theme Park twice before, when we were all a bit younger; the first time they were supporting Bombay Bicycle club on tour in 2011, and then as part of the wondrous Camden Crawl festival in 2012. I thought they were great, not only live, but on record. And then the London band, made up of brothers Miles and Marcus Haughton and Oscar Manthorpe seemed to disappear.

Four years since their debut album was released, they have just birthed their second child Is This How It Starts?, timely with summer quickly approaching, this could be the soundtrack to any sunny day. Now, in the middle of their UK tour, tonight, they play Soup Kitchen in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, a bar I’ve frequented many a time, but never for a gig. I instantly like the basement room, “grungey” and intimate, the best kind of set up for live music.

As bright white lights shine in time with the intro, and then blind us, the band leap onto stage and into the light airy groove of ‘Tonight’ – it’s moments before the room is moving, the bouncy electro is undeniable. Smoothly into ‘Something Good’, a synth dream, showcasing the vocal capability of frontman Miles. Seamlessly gliding into the latest single release off of the new record, ‘10am’, a warm love pop song, which brings us the lyrics “You make me wanna dance the night”, an accurate depiction of how I am feeling and what the band seem to be experiencing too. They look lost in their own dance bubble on stage and this isn’t popped by the audience at any point except for when Miles introduces their track ‘LA is Stealing my Friends’ and explains this is about experiencing “FOMO” (fear of missing out), perhaps the most experimental mash up of the album, and one of the strongest – it’d be the most suited to a rave and should be on the soundtrack to any dance nights.

The best of the new music is showcased through the emotive ‘I’ll Do Anything’ and the joyous sensation ‘You Are Real’, which, as to be expected from Theme Park, are songs that you can’t keep still to. There aren’t many bands that have everyone dancing throughout the set, one continuous party anthem.

Despite the clear creativity of Is This How It Starts?, I can’t help but fondly welcome the finale of ‘Wax’ from 2013’s self-titled debut, and from 2012 EPs the smooth funk of ‘Milk’. The final high of the evening comes from the diamond ‘Two Hours’ – it’s difficult to explain how much I love this song, from the words that depict feelings of numbness and anxiety to the contradictory dreamy catchy melody, it should have been a global hit.

It’s not surprising that Theme Park have often been compared to Talking Heads, and it’s not a bad thing either, but this is a band that haven’t really received the recognition they deserve, and in fact they should to be turning a few more heads.

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Sarah Starkey

I am a Freelance Writer who is a bit music obsessive. Previously written for the likes of Music Vita and Planet Ivy. Life highlights include winning £2.50 on the Euro-millions.