A poster@ Newcastle o2 Academy, December 1 2009

The first time I saw ‘A’ – around eight years ago – they were still relatively fresh-faced, jumping around between support slots for Green Day and wearing pants as baggy as MC Hammer’s.

These days the band is not looking quite as vital, with perhaps a few extra pounds gained by them all, but at least Jason Perry’s orange jacket he wore in the video to Good Time still fits.

The crowd, on the other hand, are still relatively young –mostly graduates like me hoping for ‘A’ to help them remember how it felt to be 15 again.

The good news is that ‘A’, despite a busy five year hiatus writing sugar coated pop-rock for the likes of McFly and Busted, are back and they clearly mean business.

They take to the stage and rattle through their back catalogue with much the same impressive vigour that made them such a fun and vibrant live act way back in their early days. They don’t need to rely on their more commercial hits to enliven a docile crowd – which stir lazily into life on every track. Even Starbucks is performed without any great fanfare three tunes in.

Unfortunately however, while the magic of the old days hasn’t completely deserted them, ‘A’ sadly will not be one of the year’s must-see gigs on this performance.

Maybe it’s the fact that the youngest of the Perry brothers is absent from keyboard duties tonight to family problems. Maybe it’s the fact that they haven’t really had time after just three shows to get truly gig sharp. But mostly it’s their music, which despite being well performed and spattered with excellent crowd interaction from Perry, is just not relevant enough these days to inspire the 15-year old child in us to jump on our beds and fall off our skateboards.

‘A’ will get a smile and maybe even some half-hearted pogoing out of you. But at the end of it all, you’ll probably feel decidedly indifferent.

Mark Kelly