Live at TJ's Woodhouse Club on Wednesday, 20th May 2009
Billed as an 8.15pm start, it was to be a night of fresh alternative music from across the Atlantic at TJ's Woodhouse Club near Hyde Park. Starting slightly later than billed, due to the large early turnout pouring through the venue's doors for tonight's openers Gringo Star as the lights began to dim, and the 4-piece took centre stage.
What makes this band stand out, particularly in a live environment, is their ability to write and perform songs as a group of musicians, all of whom are proficient in more that one musical discipline. A talent shared by few others in comparison to the vast and saturated world of 21st Century music. To capitalise on this talent, regular instrument changes and swaps occurred, providing an engaging visual element to their high quality musical performance. Was it pretentious? Well, no. It added another dynamic to the band, allowing them to vary their musical style song after song. Gringo Star left an overall strong impression as they escaped the stage, following an impressive showcase of harmonies, kazoo blowing and bass lines to make your right foot tap along with pleasure.
For Times New Viking, an even larger audience was gathering on the floor. Gringo Star had set a high benchmark earlier, but it was certainly one which Times New Viking could easily match. Introductions over, the audience were under strict instructions, "not to bother clapping" between songs, although this didn't stop an applause creeping through on occasion. Their fast paced set left little room to breathe, and one song transitioned into another and into another again. It was loud and caught the attention of many in the room. In the blink of an eye, it was over. The 3-piece had raced through their allocated time with ease and left the crowd hungry for more.
The penultimate act to grace the stage was Mika Miko whom I was looking forward to quite a bit. All that bouncing around on stage did give their performance and energetic feel, but something was missing. I'm unsure what, but I wasn't alone in thinking this. Song after song, people began to leave the room to go for a fag, or just leave entirely. Whilst they weren't bad at all, for some reason they weren't as well received as the previous two bands. Their performance was good. Very good in fact. I guess different people have different tastes.
For the Black Lips, the numbers began to pick up again and soon people had returned from their smoking breaks to fill the standing area once again. A few songs in and a mysterious psychedelic kaleidoscope effect was projected onto the band, flooding the stage with a strange dripping red light effect. One which rotated clockwise, leaving onlookers slightly dizzy.
Dramatic lighting aside, this band performed well, mixing onstage chaos with a fine degree of musical talent. A very good night of top quality music was witnessed at TJ's Woodhouse Club tonight. Let's hope it won't be the last.