ON THE face of it the Sound Circus is a good idea for London - a medium venue where you can go and watch up and coming groups in comfort without getting chronic neckache - or getting liberally doused with beer as people try and shove past you.
It may well catch on, but on the evidence of the opening night last Thursday it has some way to go. Perhaps the first night audience weren't quite the crowd the place is looking for anyway. They certainly didn't look at ease.
And it also looked as if the organisors hadn't done their homework properly. They decided to open with John Miles who had already sold out the Hammersmith Odeon so there should have been no difficulty selling out this 948 - seater. But lo and behold there were a surprising number of empty seats around.
If the Sound Circus took a little time to warm up John Miles took even longer. His performance was curiously lacklustre (though my spies tell me it improved the following night) and he didn't really start getting through to the audience until encore time rolled around.
He wasn't helped by a rather unbalanced sound system that was at an almost painful pitch if you were anywhere near each side of the stage and also managed to render the piano inaudible for most of the time. And an inaudible piano when you're trying numbers like 'Remember Yesterday', 'Time' or the beginning of 'Music' can be something of a drawback.
The rest of the band went through their paces competently enough but without any real sparkle. It was left to John himself to add some zest to the proceedings which he did with some fast and furious guitar playing at the end of 'You Have It All'. He really is a much better guitar player than anybody has ever given him credit for.
It was the first encore, the hectic, funky 'Slow Down' from his 'Stranger In The City' album that exuded more spirit than the rest of the set put together. It got the audience up on their feet and they brought the band back for rocking versions of 'Roll Over Beethoven' and 'Jailhouse Rock' and right at the end a couple of young girls even rushed the stage to mob a very startled Miles.
I kept thinking that they should have been generating that kind of energy much earlier on in the evening. JONATHAN HUGHES