Live at HiFi Club on Wednesday, 2nd December 2009
This is going to be the last of the 2009 360 Club events before it goes into a festive hibernation period, and returns in the New Year. Tonight promises to be an interesting one with two acts I'm unfamiliar with, and one back after some time off.
So, kicking off the bill is solo act Rich Legate. He cuts an awkward figure under the stage lights but we soon learn that Rich is a more than capable of handling himself in front of a crowd. A bit of light hearted, wistful patter about the beer on offer and Rich gets stuck into his set. The songs are delicate and almost subsonic. Unfortunately the frailty of them is somewhat lost in the chatty atmosphere of the club and Rich seems to struggle to hold his own against them. Some great minimal guitar parts could do with being cranked up a bit, just to cut through the bustle, but perhaps this would spoil their subtle qualities. Credit is however due, for Rich keeps his cool and his eccentric, casual demeanour sees him through the set.
On to Artibella, who have visited the 360 before, albeit in a previous incarnation. Tonight they're back with a new drummer and bassist. As the front man apologises for the lengthy absence it's noticeable a good portion of the audience belong to them tonight. The first few numbers are a bit shaky against the last time I saw this lot, but then it's understandable with having to break in new members. The band is just as inventive as they have previously been. There seems little time for artificial styling efforts amongst their industriously creative sound, which is a good thing. Ironical in one sense, as the more upbeat numbers remind me of Celtic Soul Brothers era Dexy's, a notoriously image conscious outfit. Some percussive guitar playing makes for some original sounds; all round the eclectic instrumentation building a great depth to Artibella which marks them out. Given chance to properly regroup they could do well.
Top of the bill come Escort Knights, a four piece. They get underway with their set; a punchy and well rehearsed group of dance pop numbers. The 360 has not been short of a synth-pop centric act or two recently, but Escort Knights my just be providing something to set themselves apart from the bunch. More dance orientated, and veering away from the indie rock end of the spectrum, the band successfully manufacture a sound with a more genuinely 80's to early 90's sound than many of their contemporaries are trying to ape. They keep it together consistently; all of them competent and professional. Maybe it lacks a bit of energy in places, with the band looking lackadaisical at times. There's enough going on to detract from this luckily; the front man delivering strong vocals, even if the lyrics appear slightly corny. A cover of Seal's 'Kiss from a Rose' is a novel idea and works surprisingly well in their thumping electronic mould. Escort Knights have proved themselves to be more than merely the name prompting a sleazy Google hit.