@ Newcastle O2 Academy II, July 15 2010

When a band member goes solo it gives them an opportunity to explore avenues they would not tend to head down within the confines of their band.

Wil Francis has done exactly that and, under the moniker of ‘William Control’, he has replaced the guitars and double beat drums with electronic synths and backing tracks.  This was Control’s first venture across to the UK as a solo artist and with Newcastle the first night of the tour it proved an interesting challenge for the Aiden frontman.

In a sparsely populated Academy, Control took to the stage accompanied by a guitarist and bass player to the shrieks of screaming girl fans.  A booming backing track prompted the opener Une Announce and drowned out Control’s vocals for the first two tracks before the sound was rectified for his biggest hit to date – Beautiful Loser.

Control’s stage presence is to be admired and even with the low turnout he wasn’t to be deterred and implored his audience to “spread out and dance”.  Control’s solo material seems to be a cross between Joy Division and The Human League with sprinkles of The Cure – but sadly without the song quality that these bands possess.

Despite Control’s undoubted enthusiasm for his material it lacked any real nous and began to sound repetitive. When compared to the likes of Blaqk Audio, the electronica side project of AFI’s Davey Havok and Jade Puget, it really doesn’t measure up.

The rendition of Why Dance With The Devil was especially weak but this being the first night of the tour he could be forgiven for the glitches that would be improved upon for the rest of the tour.

Control invited fans on stage during Razor’s Edge whilst posing for photos and video phone messages as he proclaimed that “this show would be better without any barriers”.  Control brought this night of gothic/electronica to a close with Noir during which he thanked each and every person in attendance before exiting.  The cries of “one more tune” were answered when he returned to perform I’m Only Human Sometimes.

Credit to Control for the amount of enthusiasm he puts into his shows but on this showing the solo project may not have been a great idea after all.

Tom Walsh