A monster's on the loose

This was the third time I'd seen the Automatic in as many months, but unlike the previous occasions, this was them headlining their own tour, rather than a shorter festival slot.

This gig was over by 10 PM, the Astoria's Thursday evening club night dictating an early finish, but the one hour the band played for seemed about the right length given that they only have one album of material to their name.

Although their rise to stardom has been a swift one, they already have four massive crowd pleasers in their armory, and that's not to dismiss the popularity of album tracks such as 'That's What She Said' and 'By My Side', which got the biggest reaction of the non singles.

'Raoul' was the first of the heavyweights to appear, and in keeping with previous performances I've seen came very early in the night. The massive reaction this got only went to prove that re-releasing this single is a good move.

For me the surprise was that 'Monster' wasn't left to the end, instead recent single 'Recover' was the set closer and a mighty fine choice it was too. To have 'Monster' appearing mid way through the night works better as it means those who have turned up to see it get their fix and can appreciate everything else the band has to offer without waiting for their biggest hit.

Completing the quartet of set anthems was their now obligatory cover of the Kanye West track 'Gold Digger'. Originally performed as a Jo Whiley session track on Radio 1, this has become a cornerstone of the Automatic live show. Tonight Whiley was present to see it in action for herself.

There are a number of things that make up the Automatic live experience along with the music. Watching Penny the keyboard guy can keep you entertained for hours, his hugely energetic performance makes someone like Russell Brand look like a statue. Then there's their love for the Hoff! A picture of the Nightrider legend proudly looks out from the drums.

Rob Hawkins was as engaging as ever, and used this night to let everyone know where his band stand on the idea that the Astoria is under threat from closure with posh flats a likely replacement.

Unlike the venue, the future of the Automatic is an absolute certainty. A landmark year for the band, with triumphant festival appearances and radio success surely far beyond their expectation, continues with their tour throughout October and November playing to packed venues up and down the land. If you want to experience this for yourself you may have to wait until the next tour, but that surely won't be too far in the future.