Live at Cockpit on Sunday, 7th March 2010
Following a cue outside, and a moment to get the first beer of the evening, I walked in half way through The Clifford Village Band, and was greeted with a stage full of people. In no particular order they have a saxophone, electric violin, guitar, bass, drums, a backing singer and the lead singer with a second guitar on lead vocals.
Through out the part of the set that I saw there were constant feedback problems, the sound guy was clearly struggling with something. Singer Sam Murray commented on the gremlins that plagued their set, which can often inhibit a band, but they carried on regardless, which is much to their credit. And their songs easily rode the squeals that squirmed out.
Pop, while folk in origin and design, the tracks I saw the Clifford Village Band play were pop songs. They even include a few "Ooo la la's" as backing vocals, but each with an unmistakable hairy folk underbelly. The sax complemented the pop folk fusion, rounding off the sound with a smile.
When I walked in I recognised Sam Murray, the lead singer, having met him once previously when he was hosting "Folk Off" on Leeds Student Radio, so I expected him to have a good musical knowledge. An assumption that proved correct with the last two tracks having a Spanish Rumba beat to drive any dancing along. With all the folk around at the moment, this helps set them apart from the crowd, and with fewer technical problems, should help create a party atmosphere and get us punters a boogying.
Next the reason I had come to the gig, The Boy Who Trapped The Sun. Not a band, as the name kind of implies, but one guy who didn't want to use his own name, which I shall, Colin MacLeod. It does seem a natural folk name, but maybe he wants to take the DJ approach and invent a name for his brand of music. Who knows? What I do know is he has been supporting Lisa Mitchell on her recent tour, and will be supporting the John Butler Trio next month. Maybe the Australians want to stay near the trapped sun.
Well played, picked folky numbers, with a carefree attitude. He could have been sat in his own bedroom strumming away. During a couple of tracks the gentle conversation in the room did creep to being as loud as him, despite a very powerful voice. Sat down next to The Boy was a cellist, or person with a big violin, as Mr Trapped the Sun described her. The songs on which she backed him rally stood out. Maybe her playing forced a tighter frame work for Colin's playing, or it could just be that his songs need the additional sound, but with the big violin he justified some of the reviews he has received. And when she added harmonies the songs sounded complete. A comparison could be Jose Gonzales, very gentle indie folk.
Whilst introducing one song, he started saying that the isle of Lewis (his home) was the windiest place in the UK, where there is nothing to do, and then came the best heckle of the night, "except windsurf". This was a crowd who wanted to be involved, but Boy Who still found himself getting lost. Maybe a setting for acoustic music would see him excel, but for now I found myself thinking that maybe he was really good.
Then the headliner, Lisa Mitchell, the act they were all here to see. Having had an Australian iTunes No. 1, and her album going gold in her native land, as well as some of her tunes appearing on several TV ads, I was expecting pure pop.
Wearing bright read lipstick and appearing very confident on the stage, she tells the crowd she has been enjoying saying the name of the venue before pouting "Welcome to my Cockpit". If only the contestants on our X Pop Talent Factor programs were like this I may have more interest in them. (Lisa finished 6th on an Australian talent show). Producing a sound somewhere between Mazzy Star and Corrine Bailey Rae, this was catchy down beat groovy pop. I also over heard a comparison to the singer from the Cardigans, which seemed reasonable.
Most songs had a simple beat behind them (easy to clap and dance to), with a groove ridden acoustic guitar hook over the top, the occasional xylophone or keyboards complemented the melodies, which all worked round Lisa's vocals. Lisa herself playing rhythm guitar. When she put down her guitar she demonstrated her confidence as the front woman of her band, dancing away and encouraging the crowd. Who in turn encouraged her, clapping along whenever possible, or when guided to by the very lanky bassist.
When she sat down at the piano she became very expressive, both playing and her voice, and she appeared much more than the wannabe Mariah Carey you expect from the Idol Pop programs. A talented singer and performer who could project the emotion in a song and was utterly convincing in doing so, although this was still pop music, but she made for a very pleasant end to a Sunday evening.
Folk Pop to put a song in your heart and a spring in your step