"We're gonna play you some more records, uh, songs--whatever," mumbled the Farm's gangly lead singer Peter Hooton, midway through the English band's Los Angeles debut on Friday at the Roxy. It was a telling remark, for the Liverpudlians did little more than shuffle through by-the-numbers versions of the spiffy dance-rock on "Spartacus," their first U.S. album after nearly a decade of making music in England.
It was the audience that enlivened the show, screaming with every note of such familiar KROQ fare as "Don't Let Me Down," "Very Emotional" and "All Together Now," digging into the almost mechanical drum groove and dancing away their critical judgment. Even a few people seated in the section reserved for the music industry--notable usually for their stoic cool--were seen to disappear into the roiling crowd on the dance floor and emerge seconds later diving from the stage. The only real color from the band was provided by Keith Mullin, who, in the infrequently followed tradition of fellow Liverpudlians Billy J. Kramer and Gerry Marsden, wore his guitar strapped up impossibly high, almost directly beneath his chin, and sported a nightcap like those favored by another Northern England act of yore, Freddie & the Dreamers. In a completely unintelligible accent he directed a steady stream of what sounded to be invective at the members of the audience who remained seated. He didn't stop until late in the show, when his microphone, as if to say it had heard enough, went dead.