Sunday, July 4, 2010


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The cavernous art deco ceiling of this rarely used venue might be airy but it can’t keep even the most stationary of punters from sweating tonight, while its acoustics make the mixer’s job hard and renders most lyrics and stage banter unintelligible. These problems aside, tonight was a triumphant, if messy, success, with competition from simultaneous gigs not denting the crowd size at all.

The Motifs ply their brand of gentle melody well and the songs are fine (Backwards is still gloriously perfect pop) if tonight’s rendering is marred by anything it’s the distracted audience, poor sound and an increasing reliance on keyboards and handclaps that cut through the mix brightly. When joined by Summer Cat Scott Brewer on miniature Power Tool™ toy guitar for a wonderful Night City the idea of the Motifs thickening their sound becomes appealing, something they’re already pursuing with an increasing use of keyboards and harmonies.

The Zebras are a band that doesn’t need to add anything however, with three guitars, keys and a tight rhythm section their set overcomes the sound problems and manages to stay feather light. From the opening salvo of the arresting I Have Decided via the gently stinging riffs of Science Competition and You Look Ready to the shimmering close of Push Our Way the band are on form and it’s great to hear them back with their 5-piece lineup.

Launching their début album Songs For Tuesdays, one that’s surely going to feature on some end of year polls next month, Summer Cats support the oft-muttered theory that the bigger the crowd the more shambolic the Summer Cats show. Heat plays havoc with intonation, leads get tangled, fingers nervous, lyrics and banter are almost inaudible but the feedback flows and the guitars sound huge (lead Zebra Jeremy Cole helps out on Rickenbacker). A welcome addition to several songs is the multi-instrumentalism of Nick Hadgelias who backs up blog hit Lonely Planet with accordion and brings tuneful harmonica squawks to Wild Rice. Highlights of the set include the glorious In June, here given teeth by Scott Brewer’s barely contained guitar squalls, Cole’s ringing arpeggios and the barely discernible harmonies of Scott Stevens and Irene Drossinos. It’s a messy, heavenly mix, and one that goes down exceedingly well with the crowd. The band tells me this is crash pop, not twee pop. It sounds like it.

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