Johnny Foreigner at The Penny Theatre, Canterbury 140314

March 17, 2014

Review by Nick Tompkins

It’s Friday night in Canterbury, and tonight Birmingham indie rock quartet Johnny Foreigner will be gracing the stage of the small city’s well-loved Penny Theatre following the release of their fourth studio album, You Can Do Better.

It at first seems like a fairly rigid reception as the group open with the title track of the new album, ‘You Can Do Better’ and fellow newbie, ‘Le Sigh’. Despite a hesitant audience the band remain in good spirits as guitars are wielded like weapons of war, swinging weightily around the stage. Like a much needed dousing of oil, ‘Hennings Favourite’ is drawn from the back-catalogue of old gems and is greeted with uproarious excitement; the small but giddy crowd now turns into a swirling force, and the wonders of the intimacy of the Penny Theatre are now unavoidable as Johnny Foreigner inhale the energy of the room and use it as fuel. A raucous ‘Stop Talking About Ghosts’ demonstrates bassist Kelly Southern’s unfaultable stage presence, with the power of her voice sending the microphone into a fit of crackling and popping.

As they tear through an even spread of both old and new material each song is played with as much urgency as the next.

It’s a real thrill to see that Johnny Foreigner are every bit as chaotic, raw, passionate and fun-loving as they are on their albums. As the band leave the stage sodden with sweat, it feels as if the humble venue has just played host to indie pop-rock royalty as it exhales small swarms of sweaty, star-struck fans into the night.

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