WHEN you see an army of ticket touts lining the streets of a venue you get the feeling the gig might be a bit special and has been eagerly anticipated.

Hard-Fi, who must hold the title of band of the year, did everything and more to justify the hype that has catapulted them onto the mainstream audience.

The noise level of the appreciative Black Country crowd rarely fell below deafening as the Staines quartet made their way through the songs from their brilliant debut album, Stars of CCTV.

Front man, Rich Archer, held the audience in the palm of his hand as he swaggered around the stage in the unmistakable way confident rock stars do.

The champions of the 2005 indie scene energetically belted out the songs from the album. Almost each one has taken on anthem status.

It is a hard task to pick out highlights from a performance of such quality but Hard to beat and show opener, Middle Eastern Holiday, were etched into the memory.

Cash Machine, which was recorded for a special downloadable only live version, raised the decibel level but there was only one song that could end the night.

Is Living for the Weekend the best song of the year? Simple answer, yes. The small fact that it was a rainy Wolverhampton Wednesday night did nothing to quash the joy and excitement as the first chord was played.

The reason the group has exploded onto the scene is because everything about them is real. The lyrics are believable and so many people can connect with the feeling behind the music. It was a privilege to see them live in a small intimate venue because there is no denying they are above this level now.

I apologise now to my friends because I will endlessly bore them with the tale of how I saw Hard-Fi before they ever played an arena world-tour.