New York quintet The Walkmen are pretty much the definition of a cult band. They are six albums into their career and yet, if you asked most people walking down the Cowley Road tonight if they had heard of them, the answer would be a firm no. Still, the ones who know them are all here, adding up to a sold out upper room.

The Walkmen started life in 2000 as a scrappy indie band, defined by boisterous, muscular guitar riffs and, in front man Hamilton Leithauser, a character whose every utterance sounded like he was condemning something.

Over the years their sound has mellowed considerably, with the fast and loose guitars taking a backseat to a far more mellow sound. Early records brought to mind the Ramones and Stooges, whereas now, and especially their last year’s Lisbon album, they resemble more classic Americana, with the dusty sonics of Springsteen and Neil Young far more prominent.

It is this later period the band choose to highlight in their set tonight, with about half of their new album aired. They play lilting, country pop like Blue As Your Blood and Angela Surf City, leaving the crowd to clap at the end more in reverence and politeness than from exuberance.

The frenzied tempo of their early live shows has gone, with the band more relaxed and focused solely on playing onstage. Of the older material, only The Rat really remains. This is both the band’s biggest hit and the highlight of the night. It’s raw, aggressive and it allows Leithauser to scold — albeit lyrically — an ex girlfriend for a brutal three minutes.

It seems oddly out of place now, but in a steady, efficient without ever being brilliant gig, it’s a welcome shot in the arm. Tonight the Walkmen are every inch the stoic, hard working and earnest band they sound like on CD. They are settling comfortably into their status as a middle-aged outfit very well.