Posted by Sarah Colwill-Brown.
Reviewed on 23rd June 2010.
Live at The Library on Friday, 28th May 2010
A self-styled purveyor of 'Northern Folk' kicked off proceedings at the 360 Club tonight, although Ben Peel didn't quite qualify this label with his first few tracks, coming across as more like Brit Pop goes acoustic. Songs like the catchy 'Panstick' and 'Patricia' were delivered with a Liam Gallagher rasp, and the rawness of Peel's voice certainly distinguished him from the singer-songwriter throng. This changed mid-set, as he demystified his claim to folk with the bright, Dylan - esque 'Talkin' 'bout Frustration Blues'. After channelling the spirit of Johnny Cash in 'Hard Living' it became clear that Peel's folky aspirations and distinct voice are not quite yet a harmonious coupling, as he seems prone to transforming his Northern huskiness into an emulation of his heroes in order to harness a folk vibe. What was consistent was Peel's earnestness as a performer, and a compelling lyrical consortium of catchy likeable tunes that show a lot of potential.
From the off, Films established themselves as the band of the evening - deliciously unusual, yet instantly accessible, weaving a quiet intensity through instant hooks, heartfelt vocals, delicate keyboards, and pounding drums, all imbued with a startling authenticity. Scenes from the cult classic 'Leon' provided the band's backdrop, and the mixed media enhanced the trio's subtle live performance. The delicacy of 'Matilda' was a haunting highlight, and 'Hand-made' bore a faint resemblance to Antony and the Johnsons, the only relevant comparison that emerged during the set. Notably, many experimental or fusion bands emerging from the tired and overblown 'indie' scene of recent years, feel compelled to define their own genre classification in order to prevent being pigeonholed as yet another indie band. If Films' self awarded label 'jump-folk' denotes refreshingly original and inspired sounds that deserve a national platform, then yes, they epitomise the jump-folk genre.
Frivolous and fun, Artibella combine an up-beat ska feel with sweet vocals and eclectic instrumentation. Unfortunately, such an ambitious mix doesn't always gel, the trombone and violin seeming a touch discordant at times. Despite this, they made a deep impression with 'Palemino', displaying a propensity for a subtley beautiful gypsy-folk leaning which clearly brings out the best in them. Set closer 'Horror' proved that as competent as front man Nick is, the key to this spirited sextet's soul lies in the promising talent of vocalist Beth, who, if given a larger share of the limelight, could raise the band's profile considerably. Nonetheless, with the joyfulness of The Magic Numbers, and the textured musical sensibility of The Polyphonic Spree, Artibella are delightfully entertaining.
An impassioned set from a band whose frontman bears an uncanny likeness to Bowie topped off the evening, as The Pablos entertained with their stylish blend of '70s rock and '60s rhythm and blues. Coming across as a little bit Dr Feelgood with a healthy amount of Jagger swagger, this accomplished band built rolling riffs around Hendrix inspired lead lines that were convincingly original, and banished any thoughts you might have had of simply branding them a throwback. Leaving the cries for more to wash over the 360 Club stage, The Pablos clearly won the crowd over tonight with this fiery performance.