Sunday, October 18, 2009


Going to a gig in a church lends itself to cheap jokes ("best get there early to get a good pew") or laboured analogies (shared audience experience = 'communion' etc etc). I will try and avoid both here, having made them all on the night.

Other than the bad jokes, this was a fine, fine evening at Sacred Trinity Church. It started well with a warm welcome and a real ale bar - with the vicar himself behind the bar. The next happy discovery was how intimate the church was: it is long and narrow with only 3 or 4 short rows of wooden pews either side of a centre aisle with three large bean-bags at the front. The interior was deliberately darkened with lovely green and orange lighting creating a warm glow throughout. A beautiful setting and perfect for the elegant chamber-pop of The Miserable Rich.

Ushered in by the gentle ring of a hand-bell and then a long note on the cello, The Miserable Rich started their thirteen song set with 'Early Mourning' and then mixed songs from the first album with four new songs and an Iggy Pop cover. The sound - vocals, the strings, the peal of hand-bells and the occasional tapped snare drum - was hard to fault throughout, whether the nursery-rhyme quiet of 'The Boat Song' or the brooding urgency of 'Oliver' or 'Poodle'. It was so entrancing I lost track of time.

Lead singer James de Malplaquet, wearing tails over skinny jeans and baseball boots and drinking red wine from a plastic glass, embodies the appeal of The Miserable Rich in some ways: classy elegance with a darker underbelly, rich flavours with a casual charm. But it is the playing and the quality of the songs that really sets them apart and made this such a special evening.

The Set List:
Early Mourning
Bye Bye Kitty
The Boat Song
The Time That's Mine
For A Day
Chestnut Sunday

Thanks to Rhys for filling in the gaps. An EP of covers will be available next month free of charge to those on their mailing list; the new album is due out next year; and there's a few more UK dates this month and next with a Red Deer Club appearance back in Manchester rumoured for 9 November. Missing ANY of these events is not advised.

A video of 'Poodle' from earlier on in the set is also on You Tube.

Support tonight was firstly the folk-pop harmonising of Liverpool's The Random Family with stand-up bass, flute, acoustic guitar and mandolin. They still spend too much time tuning up and swapping instruments (two songs using banjo? why not play them back to back?) but they do sound lovely.

Then Table. I saw them supporting Fanfarlo last month and made a mental note to see them again but didn't remember them being so SERIOUS. It's classy stuff from this six piece but every piano note, every pause, every sighing harmony suggests doom and despair. Even the song called 'Smile', a jaunty, love pledge with accordion is quite maudlin-in-a-good-way. They have their first single out in December on Humble Soul. It won't be happy but I'd suggest you'd join me in buying it.

The whole evening - the setting, the selection of bands, the convivial atmosphere and the wonderful real ale - showed a real love of live music and of creating a special evening. Less than half a mile away, tens of thousands of people were sitting in the MEN Arena. Doesn't matter who was on, you know it was over-priced evening, in a charmless, cavernous air hanger with nasty buckets of lager at a fiver a throw. Tonight's three bands at Salford Trinity Church cost £7 to get in and was nothing short of magical. Thank you Humble Soul and whoever else needs thanking.

The Miserable Rich
Twelve Ways To Count [BUY]

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