Monday, January 19, 2009
Within minutes it becomes apparent that the gig of the year this is coming early. The buzz amongst the dozen or so punters familiar with the work of UK indie-popsters The Deirdres (four sevenths of whom make up Can You Say Nincompoop?) is palpable and there are smiles aplenty; smiles that only get wider when The Audiobooks take to the small stage. This amiability becomes a hallmark of The Audiobooks, though musically they are very tight, particularly as this turns out to be their first gig. “None of these songs have names,” claims singer and master of the elliptical lyric Greg Long. “They’re just verses and choruses we stuck together for this gig.” Whether this is true or not, the songs are marvellous slices of Apartments-like clean guitar, nimble cello-like basslines from Madeline Cocolas and brisk staccato drumming from The Zebras’ Jeremy Cole. Though each song is introduced as “this is the one that goes…(insert riff here)”, there are songs that seem to be called Another Song About Smoking and Goodbye Purple Girls that are glorious. Bring on the first release.
Following this The Motifs do their level best to battle the bass-heavy PA with keyboards and glockenspiels aplenty. Alexis Hall, songwriter and ringleader of the instrument-swapping myopic gentleman who complete the line-up, is divine in a red ribbed cardigan and her voice is on fine form. Highlights of their recent Cross Paths album Dots, Backwards and a fantastic Old Faces close a charming set that leaves you in no doubt that when they tour Europe later this year they’ll have no trouble converting strangers into fans.
With accents that can’t help but bring to mind Alice from Vicar of Dibley, CYSN? are a beguiling indie-folk combo who once featured on Antiques Roadshow, no really! Their percussion-heavy tunes captivate the attentive punters, and again the PA plays up though this doesn’t seem to bother them much. Opening with Ball In A Cup (which includes the lyric – ‘I think he is Batman / I’d like to be his Robin / When I’m a sewing machine / I’d like to be his bobbin’), the few initial nerves disappear as the twee-pop triumphs sail by. Fun To Pretend, the exuberant Milk Is Politics and closing Clare, Are We Safe To Be On Our Own? are minutely majestic and woefully under-heard.
Playing possibly their best gig ever Summer Cats are on ebullient form. Though Scott S’s voice doesn’t reach its usual keening heights, his banter (heavy on ‘good times’ and ‘motherfucker’) gives away the sheer goodwill that the band cook up and deliver with gusto. From the opening Let’s Go via the eternal highlights of Lonely Planet and Hush Puppy to the closing new song Melbourne Town the Cats never let the ball drop. The forthcoming album is a thrilling prospect and no one is left disappointed. A gig both mystifyingly under-attended and incredibly exciting to have witnessed.