Having languished in the indie-pop wilderness for some time, Athlete are back on the road but with nothing really to promote except a career in decline.

Billed as a ‘Hits Stripped’ show, or as singer/guitarist Joel Pott put it “we’re playing everything slow tonight”, the quartet played re-imagined versions of their most popular tracks, pouring extra schmaltz on already slick and sickly songs.

Judging by their response, for fans it was a performance to be savoured. Indeed the most memorable moment came courtesy of their impromptu “Oh Athlete we love you” sing-along, which although slightly disconcerting, proved the one genuinely touching moment of an otherwise insipid night.

Athlete’s ‘Tourist’

ATHLETE
Oran Mor, Glasgow, June 30 * *

After safely negotiating tricky-second-album-syndrome thanks to the commercially successful Tourist LP, London five-piece Athlete fell off the radar with 2007’s follow-up Beyond The Neighbourhood.
A downsizing of venue inevitably follows a dip in record sales, so tonight those who’ve stuck with the Londoners found themselves sweltering in the airless basement of Oran Mor. Whether Athlete can resurrect their fortunes, appearing at an O2 or ABC will largely depend on how latest album Black Swans is received come August but on the evidence of tonight they may have to get used to more intimate surrounds.
Inoffensive indie-pop at best, it was a dull performance overall and one which although eagerly lapped up by the faithful, felt rather earnest and devoid of ideas.
Like so many of their ilk, Athlete is a squashed badger of a band, embedded firmly in the middle-of-the-road. Unremarkable ballad Black Swan Song was the worst offender while early singles You Got The Style and El Salvador felt dated beyond their six years.
The only consolation came in the form of final number Wires, but given the heat and the monotony of what had gone before it was scant reward for enduring such an uneventful set.