In 2007 with several high-charting singles and a debut number-one album, it looked like The Hoosiers had found The Trick to Life. Their sophomore effort, The Illusion of Safety, made it into the top ten, but regarding chart positions, it’s been a bit of a Bumpy Ride downwards since then. Whilst this gig was about celebrating The Trick to Life by playing each of the fourteen songs chronologically; the duo also used the Heaven slot to showcase new material.
Following the support slot from EEVAH, who engaged the crowd with catchy synth-pop songs, the stage went dark amidst blue, red, green and yellow strobing lights associated with The Hoosiers. The darkness of the stage then dissipated, and the strobing lights dimmed. The Hoosiers, with backing musicians, joined the stage to play the opening song from their debut track, “Worried About Ray”, amidst the backdrop of the original video to this song. Nostalgia speaks volumes, and there were no worries about the joy and excitement this song provided to fans, old and new. The cacophonies of the trumpet, cornet and trombone also injected additional vitality into the song and atmosphere in Heaven.
The Hoosiers continued to play The Trick to Life in chronological order with impressive visuals in the background. The pop guitar and piano-led catchy songs continued to entertain whilst there were some quirky and interesting departures from this template. For example, “Run Rabbit Run” live somehow seemed to deftly fuse Muse’s “Screenager” and Radiohead’s “Subterranean Homesick Alien”. Sadly this slower and more intelligent song didn’t quite entrap Heaven the way songs like “Cops and Robbers” would. A shorter acoustic version of “Goodbye Mr A” followed “Run Rabbit Run”, possibly because the choir’s inability to make an impact failed to engage Heaven. This is surprising since “Goodbye Mr A” is the band’s biggest and most commercially known hit. However, whilst this was a promised debut LP playback gig, The Hoosiers adroitly innovated by introducing a cover version of “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” at the midpoint, which recharged Heaven’s enthusiasm.
The catchy bass of “Killer” continued to draw in the crowd, as did “The Trick to Life”. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the sound of the slower songs struggled to reach the furthest corners of the sold-out venue, and people distracted themselves by talking amongst themselves. People’s random conversations could be heard more audibly than The Hoosiers themselves. Fortunately for The Hoosiers, the final The Trick to Life song, the bonus track, was an upbeat number that got the crowd dancing, singing, and blossoming owing to its infectious brass segments.
Following the debut LP set list, the band started with a new song, “Confidence”, something that The Hoosiers got down to fine art, unlike the support act who kept asking the audience permission to play each song. “Hello Sunshine”, another new song with a colourful lyric video, was the only one that was loyal to The Trick to Life template, whilst the Jonas Brothers and DNCE indirectly influenced the other new songs. The only other non-Trick to Life LP songs played were the seductive synth “Choices” and “Up to No Good”. The remaining songs were covers ranging from The Weeknd to Billy Joel. The Billy Joel “We Didn’t Start the Fire” cover was the strongest, thanks to the softer downtempo interpretation with emotive brass sections.
And yes, they did play out with “Goodbye Mr A” in full in its original glory. Towards the end of the song, balloons the same colours as the lights that shone amidst a dark stage before The Hoosiers began playing descended from the ceiling. Those towards the back with smartphones undoubtedly captured fantastic images of these colourful descending balloons as the band played, which undoubtedly made the rounds on social media. It worked if the trick to this sold-out gig was to reengage interest in the band. The Hoosiers have just announced that they will play at a larger London venue, Koko, in 2023.