Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The Ruby Lounge was temporarily converted into a small shrine tonight; a holy place for all those who worship Hefner. This included Darren Hayman, accompanied by old band mate Jack Hayter. Darren arrived on stage frazzled, clutching T-shirts and CDs and reflecting on how in the business of rock 'n' roll, musicians also end up running clothes stores. He pointed out tonight's gig was NOT Hefner ("that's four people; and there's only two of us") but that he and Jack were, like us, Hefner fans. And you couldn't get better affirmation of that than the first song A Hymn For The Alcohol. Not only was it lovingly sung and played (Darren on electric guitar, Jack playing electric pedal steel), the audience were word-perfect in singing too. This set the tone for the evening - touching renditions of Hefner songs with every word sung back to Darren by a devoted following.
After the first song the calls for favourites from Hefner's back catalogue began. Darren pointed out they would be starting gently but would pick up speed and get to cover those requests. He was true to his word about the former but despite a set that covered all five albums including a few from final 'experimental' album Dead Media, there were many of those classics they simply couldn't fit in. Most noticeably Pull Yourself Together. But plenty of others - including some inspired requests from the crowd (Painting and Kissing and The Baggage Reclaim Song being the best).

By the final part of the set Darren, Jack and crowd were truly in their element. The final songs they played, finishing the main set with The Day That Thatcher Dies, were pure joy to hear live - even with Darren starting to lose his voice. This was a relatively short evening (on stage for about for 75 minutes or so) but also one bathed in affection, warmth and the simple pleasure of hearing great songs played in such intimacy. A night to treasure.

The set-list:
The Hymn For The Alcohol
The Librarian
The Weight of The Stars
China Crisis
The Greedy Ugly People
Don't Go
As Soon As You're Ready
Half A Life
Hello Kitten
The Sad Witch
The Hymn For The Cigarettes
The Day That Thatcher Dies
The Hymn To The Postal Service

Arrived to catch the last two songs from Pierre Hall. Next support band was Amida: five blokes who if you saw them drinking together would look an odd mix but put them in an indiepop band and they all 'fit'. They subscribe to the narrow definition of 'indiepop' - short, jangly, unpolished pop songs played fast including some 'whoa-a-hoos' and lines like "I will kiss you in a month of Sundays". Interested in hearing more on record.

The Hefner Brain EP [BUY]

The Fidelity Wars [BUY]

Tonight to Sunday Darren and Jack play shows in Leeds, London and Cardiff. More here.

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