Wild Beasts' return to the UK live circuit was set to be triumphant after their success in 2009. They had after all just returned from their first ever tour in the US, along with dates in Australia. The critically acclaimed second album Two Dancers has also continued to gain popularity after its inclusion in many 'end of year' lists.
Early signs weren't bad either; a packed venue showed that praise from the music press had helped ticket sales. But the whole show felt a little underwhelming, as if their first gig back in the UK was a warm-up for the next performance in London, while the band acclimatised from their recent travels.
That's not to say that Hayden Thorpe and his bandmates can't cut it live; it just seemed that there was a lack of creative spark on the night. A set list equally split between both Wild Beasts albums left no room for any surprises, improvisation or new material, while a dimly lit stage saw drummer Chris Talbot quite literally in the dark for much of the show.
That said, much of the material played seemed to benefit from a lack of studio polish, leaving the songs with a more urgent sound. Thorpe's counter-tenor voice didn't disappoint either, with the lead singer reaching notes with ease that other artists would struggle even attempt.
An early outing for current single 'We Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tounges' provided an opportunity for the audience to mimic Thorpe's opening howl, while the song itself seemed less fragile and more menacing. A strong finish to the main set was also impressively delivered with the inclusion of 'All The King's Men' and 'Hooting And Howling'.
However, the lack of any real fresh insight into the material, coupled with very little on-stage banter, did make it feel like business as usual. The only real anecdote provided was to point out that this was Wild Beasts' second show in Pompey. Last time, though, they'd had the pleasure of meeting Lethal Bizzle's bouncer in 2007.
This wasn't the celebratory return to the UK which some in the audience may have been hoping for. But it did show that Wild Beasts could deliver on the promise they've shown in the studio. It's just a shame they weren't a little more adventurous while doing so.