Live at The Library on Friday, 4th March 2011
It's another rammed night in the Library as Richard Watson's rapidly exploding 360 Club gets underway. A somewhat mixed line-up tonight, from Gypsy Jazz to Ska and everything in-between, suggests that connoisseurs of variety will be very much in for a treat.
First up is Belleville, self-proclaimed Gypsy Jazzers all with variations on the slick hair/shirt and tie combo. They're a dapper bunch who wear their European influences on their sleeves. Folky melodies from all over the shop mashed together on an interesting 2 guitar, accordion and double bass line-up. It's a chirpy set and these head arrangements fly through at a decent whack so all conceptions of a wanky free-jazz combo are blown out of the window. That's not to say they're not brilliant; lightning fast picked solos, accordion/guitar duels and a solid rhythm section keep the tunes up to speed. A constant level of crowd chatter could be interpreted as lack of interest but to be honest, when you're dealing with what is essentially a caf?and set-up, total silence seems a bit unnatural. Definitely not for lack of appreciation anyway: As soon as the tracks finished an invariably mighty roar leapt from the crowd. Delicious.
Certain to become a massive addition to the 'guilty pleasures' catalogue, The Coopers bound on stage for what they describe as 'happy folk sung by happy folk'. There's little for the Hipsters in their bright and poppy sound, but then who gives a crap about Hipsters nowadays anyway? Certainly not the punters at 360 Club - It's all about the uplifting tunes, impeccably polished performance and infectious melodies. In fact, there's very little to fault about them, and they keep it interesting with some quirky little sections with brightly coloured bells played as a team (think much simpler version of 'The Swan' segment in Bill Bailey's Guide to the Orchestra) and some finely implemented tag-team instrument changeovers. If we're going to get critical then I'd say they're not terribly original. There's nothing in their sound that wasn't minced to death by pop-punk bands of the last decade. Not that I care: Maybe it's the oversaturation of the depression factories that fill up my music library but this was a cracking little break into the sunnier side of the musical world. Trust these Aussie hippies to drag that side out of you... Bastards.
Now for something altogether darker in the form of The Melodicas New Reed. Yes, it's reggae - dreadlocked, political, spacey reggae. Well, Ska... somewhere in between anyway. Whatever it is, it's definitely a band that have come on massively in the last year. Jazzy inflections and excellent feel shifts stop the sound from getting stale while the band bounce about like children in a space-hopper convention. That said, a few more up-tempo numbers wouldn't go amiss. Nothing too revolutionary too in terms of genre but that never means there's nothing to enjoy and these guys know their style very well. Luckily, the lyrics aren't too political - that just gets annoying unless you're Billy Bragg (and even then, you don't wanna overdo it) - and sufficiently earthy enough to stay relevant. It's a convincing performance though from a band continually on the up.
To Backyards then for something a touch mellower than the raucous opening acts. More post-punk (with some violin chucked in) than post-rock, it's a sound that takes its cues from the likes of Arcade Fire and Editors with smatterings of Mogwai and it does have an atmosphere about it. Unfortunately, as with most 'atmospheric' bands, the stage presence is something that gets neglected. There's an air of the timid about them, but judging by crowd response, there's nothing to be timid about. You do feel, however, that they're still finding their sound - an exciting prospect as already there's so much potential in the current set-up. In any case, a brilliant end to an all-round beast of a night.
4 bands associated with this article.
"Everything is incorporated into Backyards' sound; much more than the simple Indie dynamics of guitar, bass and drums. Keyboards make an appearance, string sections...and music that is atmospheric; contrasting between dark and light, upbeat and melancholic." - AltSounds.Com
Mashing blues, reggae, folk and rock since 2008.
Folk/rock band based in Leeds