Live at St George's Hall (Bradford) on Thursday, 29th May 2008
BD1 Live seem incapable of putting a foot wrong. This conglomeration of some of Bradford's busiest and brightest promoters and general musos has consistently bashed out successful night after successful night, and there's no uncertainty over what exactly to expect. Put bluntly, this is inevitably going to be good, particularly with the added weight of Bradford Music Week behind it. Also inevitable is the mention of choice of venue: not only do the aesthetics of St George's sit somewhere between endearing and overwhelming, but the acoustics somehow, counter-intuitively, work fantastically with all shades of amplified indie, not just the full-blown orchestras the hall is expected to accommodate.
The acoustics are particularly complimentary to openers Le Tournoi, with their delicate vocal and instrumental lines and reverb-oriented sound. The set is generally well-polished; the harmonising between vocalists, and the interesting mix of the two voices' timbres itself, are particularly impressive. There are moments when, in terms of both inter-song banter and performance, it seems a little tentative and awkward but it doesn't particularly detract from the overall effect. Once a touch more conviction, written and live, is teased out and perhaps a little more colour is injected, Le Tournoi will make a favourable impression.
Spodni Pradlo are at the other extreme of the spectrum; exuberant to the point of hyper activity and a bombardment of hooks, they are possibly better at energising the crowd but definitely more haphazard musically. The inclusion of a clarinettist, saxophonist and uke player certainly add an extra element of individuality, although the sense that they have collectively consumed an excess of smarties is the overriding thought. Their calypso tinged songs are simply light-hearted fun and are definitely the best bet to set some of the audience dancing, as they frustratedly endeavour to achieve.
This is a challenge later taken up by Lightspeed Champion. It doesn't particularly work, of course, as Lightspeed rarely comes across as a musician on a sugar-high. The renditions of songs from "Falling off the Lavender Bridge" have lost none of their sparkle since its release and accompanying tour and the new material we are given glimpses of sounds very promising indeed.
A surprising aspect, though, about his performance tonight is a tendency towards not only a grittier and darker sound (which is apparent even on his unanticipated interpretation of the Star Wars theme!) but also the inclusion of some more challenging fretwork and extended, technical solos, even in the tracks from his debut. His impeccable taste in supporting musicians is the same as ever, with Martin Brignall aka the Train Chronicles on some very funky bass, some solid drumming from Anna Prior (ex-Dead Disco) and accomplished rock violin-ing from Mike Siddell, but the emphasis Hynes is placing on his own playing is a rather large step away from the folk-pop-introspect image of his solo project. And it's striking - tapping and speedy licks galore.
So we are left to conclude that it's not just Lightspeed Champion who gets it right with the choice of musicians: BD1 Live keep wracking up the hits and tonight certainly scores some excellent points for Bradford Music Week.