A lot can happen in four years, and so it is with San Diego’s Crocodiles. I saw them four years ago and reviewed them for Silent Radio (here) when they toured in support of their Sleep Forever album.

Reading back over that review, I think I was in two minds about the band at the time, they were clearly influenced by some of the finest alt/indie bands of the 80’s, but I couldn’t decide whether there was enough of Crocodiles in there to make them less retrospective and more of an original band not afraid to acknowledge those influences.

I’m curious to see how the band have developed and progressed since then and if my opinion has changed. It’s pretty obvious now that those influences were a mere jumping off point. From Sleep Forever , which was more West Coast Psyche Revival, up to the newest and fourth Crimes of Passion, they’ve changed, broadened their sonic palette and become a much stronger band.

Live they are awesome tonight, but earlier whilst support Virals produced some great nineties Indie – think Ash, Dinosaur Jr, Smashing Pumpkins, I thought the Dot to Dot festival occurring all over Manchester  might have robbed them of a decent audience. Not so, thankfully, there is a good sized crowd in, who know where to be tonight.

The set is pulled from all four albums so far plus a couple of great and unexpected covers. Jet Boy Jet Girl, covered over here by the loon Captain Sensible (of The Damned) and as the first encore, 96 Tears.  Neither are straight run throughs either, they’re pummelled and fizz along.

Joined by new bassist Zack, whom Brandon introduces as “way too good looking” they hammer down Mirrors  and Stoned to Death from Sleep Forever. Refuse Angels is the first from Summer of Hate, it sounds so different from the album (essentially recorded as a two piece) and so much better with a skin pounder at the back.

I must confess I haven’t heard the new album, but if Marquis de Sade and Teardrop Guitar are anything to go by, it could be Crocodiles best album yet.

So, has my opinion changed? Definitely, and live they are becoming a great band, like those other bands, and tonight proved that.

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Hello Robbo here, DJ at T.R.A.S.H Your Life at the Dog and Partridge in Bolton, and occasionally at Retro Bar in Manchester. Garage, punk, 60s, kitsch, library tunes, all the good stuff.. Labels: InTheRed, Goner, Swami, Sympathy, Estrus, AMREP, Domino, Touch & Go, Dischord, Rough Trade. Shops: Beatin Rhythmn, Vinyl Exchange, Fopp, Charity, Vintage.