Tag Archives: Hull

Jess & The Bandits: Fruit, Hull – live review

Last September, just as Jess Clemmons was setting out with The Bandits on a UK tour in support of her new album, the gospel influenced Smoke And Mirrors, Hurricane Harvey struck her hometown of Houston, Texas, causing extensive damage to her mother’s home and necessitating the cancellation of the tour. Five months on and she’s back with us, kicking off the rearranged tour at Fruit in Hull and proving to the doubters (if there were any) that the change of style hasn’t diminished her ability to create some of the finest cast iron ballads and torch songs you’ll ever hear.

Opening the show is up and coming Glaswegian country pop artist Kevin McGuire, who is also on a roll at the moment with the release of 2017’s debut EP Foreign Country leading to performances for the BBC and at the Nashville Meets London Festival.

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Highlights of his set include the new single Late, 3am which is an unusual up tempo break up song written from the perspective of a rejected lover who now unwillingly finds himself in demand again, and the last song of the set, Alright Tonight, which I’d recommend checking out soonest you have the chance. McGuire is one of a growing number of home grown country performers who seem confident enough to produce authentically British country music without the need to slavishly follow US music, although he is clearly influenced by the likes of Rascal Flatts and Sam Hunt.

Jess Clemmons has changed the line up of her band since I saw them last. They’re still bandits of course, but they’re different bandits, better suited to her new sound, on display on the fine new album, Smoke And Mirrors. There are still plenty of high powered country rock grooves of course, she hasn’t gone all wimpy on us all of sudden, and the show kicks off with My Name Is Trouble straight out of our favourites playbook before swinging into love Like That, another favourite and I’m Not Going Home, whose power shows the close connection between both sets of songs old and new.

Vocally she’s in fine form voice is in fine form – she’s as good a country singer as I’ve ever heard live – capable of a wide range of emotional colour plus considerably more out and out charismatic sexiness than one person really ought to possess. It’s not fair really it isn’t.

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The set is a mix of the best of the two albums with highlights including The World’s Still Round, whose brooding verse explodes into some great rock and roll, White Lies which slows things down a little but has a classic broken lives and shattered dreams feel to it, Gone Girl for which Clemmons channels her inner Dolly Parton and Nitty Gritty which has the whole room singing.

By tradition the set includes a couple of covers – on this occasion it’s Mama told Me not To Come and Bonnie Raitt’s Love Sneaking Up which is followed by the outstanding track from Smoke And Mirrors, the gospel anthem of empowerment Sister.

And of course the show ends with some of real favourites – bring the house down rocker Ready Set, the emotionally supercharged Fault Lines and to round it all off Single Tonight.

A fine show from one of our favourite performers and if I get the chance I’ll try to catch another show later in the year. If you get the chance you should too.

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The Flaming Lips: Zebedee’s Yard, Hull – live review

Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips
Zebedee’s Yard , Hull
25th May 2017

Hull’s newest music venue is Zebedee’s Yard, close to the quayside. a car park by day, hemmed in by the backs of Victorian warehouses and office buildings. It might sound unglamorous but in practice it works just great, and while it’s probably destined to be a one summer only thing for the City of Culture celebrations it would be nice if it could continue to be used for the future because the city needs an pop up venue like this.

It certainly makes a great and slightly disorientating backdrop for The Flaming Lips,a band for whom great and slightly disorientating are the rule rather than the exception and they give us a show that certainly makes it into my top ten ever, an explosion of music, colour and joy whose psychedelia is only enhanced by the venue’s anachronistic red brick bowl.

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Everybody’s favourite young fogeys, Public Service Broadcasting, are the main support, equipped with tech and traditional instruments in equal measure and dressed as if they knew the yard’s buildings when they were young.

It’s the first time I’ve seen them live and I’ll admit to sometimes harbouring grave suspicions about bands that play computers on stage. I’ve vented them in QRO reviews on occasion, so I’m ashamed to admit that I have relatively low expectations of PSB. In my defence I’ll just say that it takes about fifteen seconds to realise that they aren’t what I’m expecting at all. No crouching over the decks gesticulating like they’re communicating in some sort of sign language for the constipated. No dancing on tables. None of the shouting “Come on Hull make some fucking noise” which usually passes for literacy for players of the Apple Mac and related instruments.

Their complex weaving of live music and samples is completely thrilling and even if I’m not dancing, (which puts me very much in the minority), I am completely mesmerised. No good asking me about the first few songs because I’m busy with cameras but I spend the rest of the set getting my head round their sound, which takes some time.

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It’s not until The Other Side, which deploys samples from the Apollo 8 mission, that I start to pick the threads from the complexity sufficiently to understand what’s going on. It’s a great track with the tension rising throughout,like a hundred heartbeats woven into one until it reaches a massive crescendo.

Favourite tracks are hard to call because it still all felt very new but Everest, which closes the set, is incredible and when Public Service Broadcasting leave the stage I have a new favourite band.

And then we’re all set for the main event. As a prequel nets filled with huge balloons are manoeuvred into the gangway at the side of the stage but so bijou is Zebedee’s Yard the crew are unable to get them past the scaffold structure. After several minutes of effort, filled with the sound of popping rubber, they give up and the balloons are distributed to the crowd by way of a human chain. It’s an impressive piece of work.

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It’s my first live encounter with The Flaming Lips, a band whose shows have achieved legendary status. The previous night they were at Glastonbury, closing things up on the Park Stage. Tonight it’s a car park in Hull. It might seem like a bit of a come down but you have to remember that this year Hull is the official UK city of real, proper culture, and Glastonbury is, as ever, the home of middle class beardy weirdy wannabe culture.

It’s difficult to know how to approach a Flaming Lips review. If you’ve seen them before you won’t need a description. If you haven’t then you probably won’t believe me.

The balloons having been pretty much eliminated by the end of Race For The Prize, Wayne Coyne, dressed in crimson velvet, is joined on stage by several large inflatable manga characters for a glorious Yoshimi. For the first time ever I miss loads of shots because I am too busy singing along. When There Should Be Unicorns trots in Coyne rides a ten foot luminous equine monocerous into the crowd. It’s a dangerous thing to attempt and the only safety gear with which he is equipped are some inflatable rainbow wings and a pair of fluffy green crocodile feet. If it all sounds a bit predictable then all I can do is promise you that it’s great. The unicorn completes a full circuit of Zebedee’s Yard and Coyne dismounts.

After that it all gets a bit weird.

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The hamster ball comes out for a strangely poignant Space Oddity and there’s a giant rainbow, more confetti cannons than you can shake a stick at, and a large inflatable Fuck Yeah Hull sign which has a much more pleasing symmetry than the previous night’s bottom heavy Fuck Yeah Glastonbury.

What’s most important though is that at no point in the whole bizarre process does the quality of the performance ever slip below fantastic. There may be a lot of nonsense in the air but it isn’t allowed to compromise the music.

The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song is a huge singalong and Coyne seems pleasantly surprised at how many people are able to join in with verses as well as chorus. The show winds up with a storming She Don’t Use Jelly and a tender and lovely Beatles tinged Do You Realize, which has the crowd singing as they leave.

Jess and the Bandits: Fruit, Hull – live review

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Jess And The Bandits

Fruit, Hull

27th April 2016

It’s only a couple of years Jess Clemmons and her Bandits got together (having met while she was supporting them on tour under their alternative identity, The Overtones), and in that time they’ve had a hit album on the country charts (the excellent Here We Go Again, now available in a new deluxe edition), wowed Sir Terry Wogan (Sir Tel on Louder Than War – that’s another one off the bucket list), while playing live on his show and established a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts on the circuit. The chance to catch up with them at Hull Fruit is too good to pass up and word has clearly got round because when we arrive, plenty early enough for the supports the place is already buzzing.

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Support comes from Hull four piece The Mighty And The Moon, whose country tinged songs recall Damien Rice with a hint of Tom Waits gravel. I particularly like Port In A Storm with its lovely, old fashioned slouchy waltz time but there are lots of other great songs in their set and they have a new album on the way soon.

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Tour support are Luke & Mel are a duo from Cumbria and either Yorkshire or Lancashire (depending who’s asking) but they sound like they just stepped down off the stage at the Grand Old Opry. Highlights of their set include their cover of Little Big Town’s Little White Church and their new single, Bad Habit, which has that authentic Southern rock twang, calling to mind Miranda Lambert.

And so to Jess And The Bandits who get a huge cheer when they take the stage. Although Jess herself may have forgotten (until reminded by the fact checkers at the front), they played a storming set at the Cottingham Festival last year and I think half the crowd from that gig are here tonight. Texas born Jessica Clemmons is a force of nature, never still for a moment, dancing and striking poses, by turns confidential or coquettish, always charming, always commanding the room. At one point there is some chatter at the bar and she lets the culprits know that she’s not happy. It must have been something important because the rest of us can’t take our eyes off her.

Her set is a mixture of roadhouse country, torch songs and blues and she delivers in spades on every song with a style that’s a bit pop, a bit rock, a lot of blues and one hundred percent country. As well as the amazing voice she’s a terrific songwriter and songs like Kiss You Now and Love Like That establish a high standard for the rest of the night but the first really heart stopping moment is a cover of Lee Brice’s I Don’t Dance. Performed as a duet with keyboard player Steven Reid Williams, it’s completely lovely and displays perfectly the breathtaking liquid clarity of her voice.

She follows up with audience favourites My Name Is Trouble and Nitty Gritty, a rallying cry for everyone everywhere who isn’t a size eight. In the chorus she sounds just a little like Alanis Morissette, (which is considered a good thing in our house), and the song, which has made her the country music Meghan Trainor, deserves to be a huge hit. I feel positively guilty for not dancing with everyone else, but I resist the temptation.

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There are also some terrific covers including Bonnie Raitt’s Love Sneaking Up, (which she nails absolutely, leaving no room to doubt her blues credentials), The Dixie Chicks Some Days You Gotta Dance and an extraordinary reworking of Jimmy Webb’s Wichita Linesman, a song she played to considerable effect on the Wogan show, the first time many of us became aware of her work. It’s a brave thing to take on a beloved standard that’s so associated with another artist, but she makes it all her own, with a reading that concentrates on the love song elements of the lyric but also brings out the existentialism of the original.

Highlights? Well they all are really. There’s not a dud in the show, but Stop Me, a great piece of power pop that wouldn’t be out of place on a Disney soundtrack is an album track that I didn’t appreciate fully until I heard it at this show and What If, on which her voice rises from breathless whisper to full on country diva goddess in a matter of a few bars, is a revelation too. Kiss You Now is another that lights the place up, as does Wanted Man, with Clemmons clearly revelling in the chance to let her bad girl run free for a while. Her solo single, Single Tonight, is a similar vein, and it’s a great piece of Shania Twainish sexy country blues. I’m going to name every song on the set list soon. They’re all great.

So there you go – classic country with blues and pop sensibility to spare. I think I’m supposed to find fault with something, it’s traditional, but I’m not going to and if you see that they’re anywhere near you soon make sure you go see them.

~

Jess And the Bandits: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Luke And Mel: Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Mighty And The Moon: Website | Facebook | Twitter

All words by idp. and photography by idp

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Life: A Listener’s Manual

Life are from Hull.

They’re brash and punky, full of attitude but also possessed of a lyrical and melodic authority and composure that marks them out as being something a bit special.

Since forming a year ago they’ve had radio play from Steve Lamacq, John Kennedy, and Zane Lowe on Radio 1 and playlistings on XFM and Amazing Radio. They’ve also made a splash on the urban festival scene.

I’ve been trying to catch up with them for a while but they’ve been all over the country so when I heard they were planning a single launch at The Adelphi in Hull that sounded too good to miss.

The line up is Mick (guitars), Mez (vocals), Loz (bass) and Rich (drums). Mick and Mez are the mandatory brothers who provide the lyrical core of the band and whose sibling rivalry and petulance will someday rip the project asunder but for now they’re mates and they sit and chat and answer some questions before the show. On my recording I can’t tell them apart so I shall attribute their answers to LIFE.

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Louder Than War: You’ve all been in bands before – most of you were in The Neat.

LIFE: The Neat was Mez, Loz and Rich, but without Mick. The rest of us are older than him and we’ve been in a few bands. He’s only nineteen.

LTW: You’ve been together about a year and it’s been pretty busy. Is it all a bit of a blur or do you feel in control?

LIFE: It’s gone real fast but I think we’re one of those bands that will always want to stay in control. Partly because of who we are. Partly because of coming from Hull. If we were in the East End of London and waltzing about getting pissed all day maybe we’d be less in control but we’re from Hull and we all have full time jobs and we like to stay in charge of things. We all have to balance our day jobs and the band but at the moment the music is our main aim. We’ve had some fantastic gigs – Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Live At Leeds, Dot To Dot Festival, Camden Rocks.

LTW: I saw the videos of you at Live At Leeds. How did it feel playing in front of what looks like a full house at the Academy? You don’t look phased by it.

LIFE: There were two thousand three hundred people there! Obviously they weren’t all there for us but you’ve got to go out there and enjoy it. We were really surprised when we saw how full it was. Kodaline were the headliners, we were first band up. We were expecting people to come in in dribs and drabs and we’d have to try to get them to come to the front but we went out and the place was at capacity almost.

LTW: All the press materials I get through from your management begin with the words “Hull punks Life” but you don’t seem to be a band that’s that too bothered about genre.

LIFE: I think if you stick to one genre you’re limiting yourself as to what you can do. We all contribute equally to the band’s sound and we’re all influenced by different things. We get called punks and we do have some of the punk ethos about us. We grew up listening to a lot of music with punk at its heart (because our Dad was in new wave bands and we listened to his record collection but we listened to a lot of other stuff too. Still do.

LTW: Your songs sound like you put some effort into creating them. They’re not just chucked together like some. The new single Take Off With You sounds almost like three songs in one. Did it grow organically from a single idea of are you more deliberate than that when you’re writing new material?

LIFE: It’s actually one of our most spontaneous songs. I had this riff that I had had knocking around for a while and I was playing it and Mez heard it and then we got a lyric on it and it just took off from there. We put a lot of work into it though because it had this vibe that felt like if we tweak this we can build it up nicely into something special. It felt like it had potential. We’re pretty happy with it, especially the big chorus, because a lot of choruses can be a bit wet and we wanted it to have some power and emotion.

LTW: Your single Money sounds quite political. Are you a political band?

LIFE: We do take an interest in politics. I don’t think that lyric is political in the sense that it’s about the government but it is a bit of a tirade against moneyed people, people who don’t have to give a fuck because they’ve got silver spoons in their mouths.

LTW: Your PR mentions an interest in pop culture. Anything from Steinbeck to Breaking Bad it says, which is the high end of low culture. Who’s the culture fan?

LIFE: That would be both of us because we write the lyrics. We both read a lot. At the moment we’re reading a lot of the beat poets and writers who hung out with them. We like Ferlinghetti and Bukowksi and we try and work little references to what we’ve been reading into our songs. We try not to be pretentious though, we just like a bit of wordplay. We’ve got a song called Ginsberger for example. And a line that mentions Kerouac. We try to give it a modern twist.

LTW: Can your drummer really rip an apple in two?

LIFE: He can. Yeah. We don’t know how he does it.

LTW: You’ve been working with Nick Hodgson from the Kaiser Chiefs.

LIFE: Well we go back quite far with him, over five years. He helped us with The Neat and we connect. He’s a Leeds guy and he saw something in us. He likens us to the Kaiser Chiefs when they were raw and touring the clubs. He’s great to work with because he knows his stuff and when he’s excited by what you’re doing that’s a great feeling. People in bands are always excited by what they’re doing but to have someone like Nick excited too, that validates what you’re feeling yourselves.

LTW: Steve Lamacq said last year that the music business is too metropolitan and that bands from the provinces, he specifically mentioned Hull bands, tend to get ignored.

LIFE: I think it’s definitely the case. There’s a lot more going on here than you might think. There are a lot of good bands in Hull. Daze and Babies who are playing tonight to start with, and Mother and The Talks. The drummer from Drowners is from Hull too. If you read the papers and listen to the radio you’d think there were only two cities in Britain – London and Birmingham. And the industry can become lazy. A lot of rich kids in London start up bands in Dalston and that’s where the record companies are. When we go to London we have A&R men come in and we’ve had some interest. But try and get an A&R man to come to Hull for a little gig. Different matter. We always get asked when are you moving to London.

LTW: So you’re Hull through and through.

LIFE: It’s an underdog city. We won’t let it get ignored.

LTW: How do you go about finding the things you need? Management, studios, rehearsal space, venues? Is Hull good for music making?

LIFE: Pretty good. There’s a music place in town called the Warren, they’ve just started Warren Records there, they support a lot of bands and then there’s this place, The Adelphi, and there’s Mark who’s done wonders with the Humber Street Sess. He’s been nominated for a festival award now, and of course Hull being 2017 City of Culture, that’s going to make a difference. It’s bound to bring people in – the fruit market area is buzzing. So long as it’s not just a fad, it’s got to spread out into the rest of the city. You can still walk down Whitefriargate and every shop is boarded up.

LTW: You played the main stage at the Freedom Festival. It was your eighth gig. How did that feel?

LIFE: It was a proud moment – in front of our home crowd. It was our first time on a big stage. We were on early but it was still good. It feels very different on a big stage. Some gigs we’ve played in London have been tiny rooms up three flights of stairs over pubs. The Dot To Dot Festival gig was tiny too. Capacity sixty, there were people on the stage with us.

LTW: You’ve been touring pretty hard lately. You played London on March 19th and Dundee on the 20th. That’s a good stretch. And there was a band there that really hated you? Like a big rivalry?

LIFE: Yeah we made it but we were exhausted. The rivalry thing was because Dundee and Hull were both up for City of Culture and Hull won. It wasn’t a real rivalry, just a bit of fun.

LTW: Did you enjoy touring? Could you get used to it?

LIFE: Yeah we loved it. That was our first experience of back to back gigs and that’s very different to playing spread out gigs. Playing. Sleeping in the van while someone drives. Playing again. It starts to feel like doing a job.

LTW: And what’s next for Life?

LIFE: We’ve got some good festivals coming up. Wicker Man, Kendall Calling, Boardmasters. And then a big tour in October. And we’ll be recording for a potential release in 2015.

LTW: Thanks guys. I’ll let you get on now.

So I let them carry on getting ready for the show and go for a wander. Outside the venue people are beginning to gather and when I get back there’s getting to be a bit of a buzz about the place.

First up are Daze who describe themselves as shoe gaze psychedelic rock and whose fuzz heavy riffs unwind echoing and powerful across the room, full of desert atmospherics and poppy choruses. They’re followed by Babies who by way of contrast give us a set of booming surfer punk proof, if it were needed, that there is a lot of talent in this city and a lot of diversity too.

By the time Life take the stage the place is packed – they’ve clearly got a local following building up. The set opens with In Citrus, a big slab of straight up and down rock, not subtle but brutal and very effective. It’s a great opener, sending out a message that this is a night when few if any prisoners will be taken.

The set list contains all the singles that I have been playing now for weeks and which have become part of my personal soundtrack – the vindictive Money, and Crawling which sounds like a piece of classic Pub Rock. There’s also I Wanna Forget which starts slow and build to a chorus which could come straight out of The Ramones songbook.

The band are as tight as you could wish and Mez, when he’s not reading poetry is an utterly compelling vocalist, part strutting Jagger, part vulnerable Doherty, part confrontational Jesson, a mixture of feral restlessness and sly intensity and old fashioned showmanship. He’s not easy to photograph because one minute he’s deep in the crowd on the floor, the next he’s climbing the drum kit and finding out just how low those beams in the roof at the Adelphi really are, but through it all you get the impression that there’s a lot of skilful image management going on here.

I remember what they said in the interview about being in control. The band have the happy knack of looking spontaneous and transgressive while staying firmly in charge of what they do. It’s a good trick that will carry them far. Don’t doubt that for a moment.

Of course the climax to the show is new single Take Off With You and it’s a blinder. I’m not going to try and put a label on it. You listen to it. It reminds me of a long lost Talking Heads track but you may hear something else completely. Whatever it is, it’s great and Life are a band on the way up, there’s not much doubt of it.

Watch this space.

Even if it’s a space in Hull.

~

Daze are on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud. Babies are on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud

Life’s website is here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter

All words by idp. More work by idp can be found in his Louder Than War archive. His photography website is here and his photo blog is here.

Art Brut: New Adelphi, Hull – live review

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Art Brut
The New Adelphi, Hull
29th September 2013

Classic rock band Art Brut barnstorm their visit Hull’s New Adelphi.

My first time at the New Adelphi in Hull. I’d been told it was tiny but it’s much smaller than that, one of those proper little rock and roll venues the are disappearing fast. It’s basically an end terrace with the downstairs rooms knocked into one, bright blue and pink walls, a mural at the back of the stage and an array of lights hanging from the ceiling that look like they were made out of catering jam tins.

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There are concrete beams in the roof, one of which passes directly above the front of the stage, causing lead singer and extreme ironist in chief Eddie Argos to raise a hand to ascertain its location at the start of each song before essaying one of his trademark pogos. As a six foot fourer who has had to wear a stupid looking collar on three occasions as a result of low ceilings I worry for him.

Openers on the night are local guitar and drum duo The Glass Delusion whose set is made up of great, fast, loud one minute songs about literature, the importance of not being buried alive and their disdain for tribute acts. Great fun and I’m nominating them for a special award as the band who sound least like their web material when you hear them live. Following on are La Bete Blooms, usually a five piece, tonight playing as a four, harmonic post punk tinged with some delicate pop sensibility. It’s a great bill put together by Screaming Tarts who bring a lot of good music over to the east coast where god knows we need it.

Having arrived at the gig knowing that I liked Art Brut what takes me by surprise when they arrive on stage is how much I like them. They manage to go from being an amusing band that I rather like and approve of to being one of my favourites in the space of the set. I think this is because I’d mostly though of them up to now as ironists. I hadn’t really appreciated what a good noise they make and what a barnstorming over the top show performance we were in for.

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On CD the band are almost subdued, mostly present to service the lyric but live they are tight, wild, disciplined and raucous, not by turns but all at the same time which is a tough combination to pull off. Proceedings are inevitably dominated by front man Eddie Argos, who delivers his lines with the accompaniment of an impressive repertoire theatrical gurning and gesticulation.

All the favourites are there – including Formed A Band, Emily Kane and My Little Brother but best song of the night is the newest Arizona Bay, a nod in the direction of Bill Hicks which has a great deranged swagger to it. The spoken interludes and commentaries which last only a few seconds on CD become extended monologues lasting several minutes in some cases. During Modern Art he steps down from the stage and out into the crowd, having everyone sit or crouch down while he leans over them and exuberantly narrates the story of his visit to the Van Gogh Museum like a particularly enthusiastic nursery teacher trying to whip some enthusiasm into story time.

The irony is still a big part of the show of course – not just the straightforward stuff either but a special kind of multilayered reflexive irony which has always been present in their work -‘This is my real singing voice, I’m not being ironic’ Argos declaims on Formed A Band.

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During his Modern Art soliloquy he explains to the audience that he has lost the thread of the story and has improvised himself into a corner he doesn’t know how to get out of, only to admit a few moments later when the laugh has been won that in fact he knows exactly where he is headed because the impression of spontaneity is of course an artifice and the same monologue, including this bit, can be found word for word on the CDs available (at remarkably good prices) on the table to our left.

Most importantly the band look like they’re having a great time. Argos points out that they have two new members on board and he takes great delight in confounding them by departing from the set list for what appear to be unrehearsed songs. ‘Play one the drummer knows’ someone shouts from the back during a moment of confusion. Argos enjoys it too and repeats it in case anyone missed out. It’s my favourite heckle at a gig in ages and all the more enjoyable because of the sneaking suspicion that maybe nobody shouted it at all and Argos just made it up and it’s part of the regular show.

~

Art Brut can be found at their website and at their Facebook, Twitter and MySpace pages.

La Bete Blooms are on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

The Glass Delusion are at their website and at their Facebook and BandCamp pages.