Sunday, January 3, 2010


Monday, September 01, 2008

Like the security staff and police, winter was out in force tonight. A fact the hundred-meter line of trembling indie kid was not allowed to forget as we queued outside, bathed in the neon glow of the nearby adult cinema. For reasons never explained, the venue was allowing access solely via the elevator meaning that several early sets were missed by many, and that upon arriving, Roxanne felt like a large emptily exclusive firetrap. Despite this, and despite the surprisingly defective PA system in the main room, the dual-stage magic organised by Sophie and Ash of Mistletone (a duo thanked profusely throughout the night by every act) succeeded beyond measure in making one of the finest nights of music of recent years.

Pikelet indicated again just how quickly she is gaining confidence and how comfortable the band feel working with her songs. Glowing just as warmly as the winter lights she adorns the front stage with it’s a gorgeously muted set that finishes with a never-lovelier Toby White. Hopefully Beach House were watching and will take her away to cast her magic with a wider net.

With a setlist that sits like delicate spires of Pavlova Magic The Crayon Fields pitch their music perfectly and deliver an immaculate gig. Delicate and brisk, like the Belle and Sebastian songs you can dance to, the accent is oddly away from the guitar (courtesy of guitarist Chris being away from the country and ably replaced by The Motifs’ Alexis) and back on the keys, chords and vocals. This lends new songs like Graceless and Other Pleasures a richer, less accented tone and makes the forthcoming album that little more hotly anticipated.

Entering into the tight triangle that Love of Diagrams form has always been an inconceivable task. Easy to admire, respect and appreciate, actually being moved by them has been hitherto impossible. Tonight however, showcasing almost entirely new material LoD indicate that not only are Matador going to be pretty damn excited with any new recordings but that their music, without compromising an inch, will be more accessible. Vocals are increasingly becoming a more powerful weapon in their arsenal, melody, wah-wah pedal and length seem to be new interests and ones that are as well deployed as their innate tightness and obvious talent.

Bachelorette almost steals the night with the latest installment of her love affair with electricity. Just as tight and as well executed as Love of Diagrams, she is compelling to watch, hypnotising to the ear and never at any stage buys into the detached irony that so often comes with the field of electronic music. The scene-setting On The Four seems to defy age and My Electric Husband brings the inherent humanity through loud and clear in a way so few acts do; perhaps she invests more than others? Whatever it is she does, right through to the cut-up cassette recordings of acoustic guitar that close her set, its spot on.

US headliners Beach House take to the stage with quiet aplomb and set about redefining the term ‘soporific splendour’. Sounding at times like Mazzy Star fronting a stoned Kraftwerk, it’s all regal gorgeousness and a constantly transfixing smoulder that renders the snails pace of the songs barely noticable. In constant sway at the keyboard, Victoria Legrand is the figurehead while guitarist Alex Scally and drummer Dave Begander quietly build and deconstruct the walls and towers that see most of the new album Devotion brought thoroughly to life.

Meanwhile, Actor Slash Model show again why they can’t be pigeonholed and require consistent reviewing. Tonight sees melodies just as manhandled as guitarist Ricky French’s Jazzmaster where guitar noise becomes the exception and all the more powerful because of it. Almost straying into the realms of snappy pop with up-front vocals and an unusually clear mix, the band burn up the stage with energy to spare and songs that actually sound like songs. With their years of gigging as homework, this is a flying colour performance. Awesome stuff.
Qua’s crackling bass and erratic beats play on in one room and Guy Blackman cranks up the wheels of steel in another as the crowd thins while Mistletone cement themselves as the label that can do no wrong.

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