Saturday, March 03, 2007
Northcote Social Club
In the space of several months The Rise And Demise have gone from being an promising ramshackled troupe who competently created a warm and considered atmosphere, to being strong, very competent, and often transfixing performers. The razor-sharp live sound certainly helps, but it's the controlled flickering lead guitar, quietly surging cello, skittering free-form drums and sparkling organ lines indicate they have been honing and refining their craft. Alot more prog-sounding live than on record, TRAD sound forceful and assured as they surf another wave of skillfully built tension which explodes to chiming Rhodes release - songs are more pulled from the mix of sounds than crafted with a guitar. You could see a fantastic soundtrack coming from them in the future.
One song in, Tobias Cummings is joined by Long Way Home, and it's a great combination. Cummings' songs are straight-ahead easy-chord folk rock tunes and the fine musicianship of LWH fleshes them out well, Mr Busy (AKA Jeremy Kirk)'s drumming contributions are particularly notable. Sunny Disposition gets a rousing reception as the fine slice of songwriting it so clearly is, Too Right (both songs from current album Join The Dots) is also memorable for its aching melody and slow-burning moody swagger. Clearly a band well on their way to making the next step to national recognition.
After an interminable wait, with the appearance and aplomb of a dapper Dickensian chimney-sweep, Fionn Regan takes to the stage - all tight black clothes, skinny legs and tousled hair. Chatty, genuine and perhaps a little drunk, Regan quickly eases to the crowd who are already on his side. "This song is for people who would rather be robbed with a gun than a fountain pen," he says before kicking in to Ballad Of The Toad Eaters.
Instantly impressive is his complex and melodic guitar picking style. Neither classical nor bluegrass in technique, it exudes a sense of energy countered wonderfully by his assured voice and warm tones. The next thing that hits is the lyric, snatches and fragments of imagery that stay with you long after the song has finished; "I will be your crushed pill," or "We came across three men/They had church candles wrapped in newspaper/I bought two from them/And I lit one for you/I hope the message made it's way down the wire", and numerous references to books.
He sometimes gives the impression he's playing for drinking money at an Irish pub where Rory McLeod and Christy Moore are regulars, which is no bad thing at all, so seasoned a performer he seems. Singer Gypsy L ("I met her in the sandpit," he gleeful admits) joins for some songs, and her beautiful lilt adds much - as do her bells to The Medicine Chest. Audience member Andy almost upstages Regan with his hilarious rendition of the second verse of audience fave Put A Penny In The Slot - Regan is clearly heartened by the vocal and appreciative crowd. The gig flies by, and before you know it, after a beautiful Be Good Or Be Gone encore, and an implausibly long call for another, Regan returns for a tight version of Abacus, leaving punters in no doubt that this is one masterful songwriter and performer, and a killer night of tunes.