Sunday, November 29, 2009

Noughties by Nature #113: Clinic's 'Distortions' (aka 'The One That Slipped Through The Net')

Over on Sweeping The Nation there has been an impressive crowd-sourcing approach to listing and celebrating the songs of the decade: Noughties by Nature.

In the final stages I put myself forward to deliver one of the planned 120 entries. Sadly I delivered mine the day AFTER the list had to prematurely ended (at #112). I've never been good with deadlines. So in all its glory here is my entry, the 'one that slipped through the net'

Noughties by Nature #113: Clinic - 'Distortions'

Clinic’s debut full-length album “Internal Wrangler” came out in the first year of the Noughties. It built on the earlier John Peel-approved singles (compiled on the “3 EPs” album) and set the template for their following 4 albums: art-punk-garage with splashes of surf, doowop, Suicide or Krautrock. From “Internal Wrangler” came three singles – ‘The Return of Evil Bill’, ‘The Second Line’ and ‘Distortions’. In an alternative format I’d make the case for all three featuring in a best of the Noughties list; but for politeness and compliance I’ll put forward just ‘Distortions’.

The defining aspect of some Clinic songs is momentum – the surging break-neck pace of say ‘Cement Mixer’, ‘Pet Eunuch’ or ‘Tusk’. For others it’s tension – see ‘Harvest’ or the controlled metronomic rhythms and abrupt, regulated gasps of ‘The Second Line’. What defines ‘Distortions’ for me is its emotional force – something not often associated with a band who can appear on the surface a little distant, unengaged and, well, clinical.

Over vintage organ hum and sparse drum pattern, Ade Blackburn’s softened vocals suggest pure vulnerability and yearning. Occasional moments of tenderness (“
I love it when you blink your eyes”) are countered by something more sinister playing out “You'd never know how often / I've pictured you in coffins / my baby in a coffin”. As with most Clinic songs, it is difficult to tell what is going on lyrically. My assumption is that ‘Distortions’ is documenting the conflicting sensations of pregnancy, and how it changes and distorts the female body and emotions. And ultimately wishing for birth/abortion as a way of escape: “I want to know my body / I want this out not in me / I want no other leakage”. I could be so wrong. But whatever the personal interpretation or true sense, for a band that disguises meaning through cryptic lyrics and muffled vocals as effectively as they disguise themselves on stage, it is a rare glimpse of empathy and tenderness. The instrumentation on the song is equally delicate and appropriately atmospheric: languid bass and spectral backing vocals so subtle you almost don’t hear them. At its finale, the song builds in intensity to a final brief wig-out with squealing horn: beautiful and frightening.

In a decade where TV ‘talent’ shows and the conservatism of a failing record industry have obliterated music that is original, interesting or genuine from the charts and the mainstream, we need more than ever to celebrate and cherish bands like Clinic and others featured on this list. The ‘nature’ of the Noughties should not be remembered as lowest-common-denominator blandness and copy-cat music-making. Let’s keep celebrating the distortions.




[BUY Internal Wrangler]

If you didn't visit Noughties by Nature, it's all still there to view and is heartily recommended. As STN says "it's been interesting to see what didn't make the cut. Among the 111 were three unreleased songs, a B-side and one unreleasable (in its original form) track, such being the nature of the beast. And yet no Radiohead, Strokes, Arctics, Kanye, White Stripes, Winehouse, Franz, Elbow, Coldplay, Outkast..." What did make it were the following:

Aaliyah, Adam Green, Airport Girl, Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate, Amanda Palmer, And So I Watch You From Afar, Arcade Fire, Ash, Art Brut, At The Drive-In, The Avalanches, Ballboy, Battles, Bearsuit, Billie The Vision And The Dancers, Blakfish, The Bobby McGees, Brakes, Bright Eyes, British Sea Power, Broadcast, BrokeNCYDE, Burial, Chris T-T, Clock Opera, Colour, Comet Gain, The Concretes, The Coral, Dan Deacon, Darren Hayman, David Cronenberg's Wife, The Delgados, Deerhunter, Dizzee Rascal, Eastern Lane, Eels, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Euros Childs, Felix da Housecat, Girls Aloud, Girls On Top, Half Man Half Biscuit, Hefner, Helen Love, The Hold Steady, The Horrors, Hot Hot Heat, The Indelicates, Jarvis Cocker, Johnny Boy, Johnny Flynn, Johnny Foreigner, Justice vs Simian, Kat Flint, Kate Nash, Klaxons, The Knife, Kylie Minogue, Lambchop, The Libertines, The Long Blondes, Los Campesinos!, The Lucksmiths, Lupen Crook, The Manhattan Love Suicides, Maps, Mclusky, Minnaars, Mint Royale, Missy Elliott, Misty's Big Adventure, Mo-Ho-Bish-O-Pi, Moldy Peaches, Monkey Swallows The Universe, The National, Neon Neon, New Order, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Patrick Wolf, Pelle Carlberg, The Pipettes, Primal Scream, Pulp, Rachel Stevens, The Research, Robbie Williams & Kylie Minogue, Ryan Adams, Saturday Looks Good To Me, Saul Williams, Saves The Day, Sebastian Tellier, Sergeant Buzfuz, Snow White, Spiller feat. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Stars, The Streets, Sufjan Stevens, Sugababes, Sunset Rubdown, Super Furry Animals, Tim Ten Yen, The Ting Tings, Town Bike, The Unicorns, Von Sudenfed, The Wave Pictures, Why?, Wyclef Jean, XX Teens and You Slut!.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TONIGHT IN MANCHESTER: We Were Promised Jetpacks

Fiery young Scots rockers (no clich├ęs here) We Were Promised Jetpacks play The Roadhouse tonight – highly recommended if you haven’t seen them live.

I first saw them supporting Frightened Rabbit at Night and Day last year and was impressed by the energetic delivery and the remarkably finished sound they had for a then-unsigned band. Unsurprisingly they were picked up by Fat Cat (home of fellow travellers Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad) and the release of their album “These Four Walls” followed in June this year. The album didn’t quite capture my imagination in the same way as the live performance – putting these songs on tape seemed to restrain them too much? But it garnered some good write-ups in the broad-sheets:

"They’ve already perfected a sound that sits between post-punk and pop, soaring choruses saved from over-sentimentality by stark, even bleak verses." The Independent '5 bands to watch'

"Quiet Little Voices is a rousing, sinewy, post-punk romp that crashes its way towards a Wedding Present-style duelling guitars denouement."
The Guardian

The album is available digitally or on CD/LP from Fat Cat. If you don’t want to make that commitment so early in your relationship with WWPJ, a good introduction is the double-A side single released next Monday (30 November): ‘It's Thunder And It's Lightning / Ships With Holes Will Sink’. The first of these is the fine lead-off track for the album: a barn-storming performance welding raw lyrical vulnerability to huge rugged guitar riffs and by-the-end pained howls of singer Adam Thompson. Or maybe see them live? Advance tickets for tonight's Roadhouse gig are available here.



(And more videos from last week's sold-out Borderline gig from babz54321 here).

Remaining dates in Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow this week and then WWPJ join Frightened Rabbit for the Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations. European dates in January 2010 follow.

ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES
We Were Promised Jetpacks
These Four Walls [BUY]

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Honey... they're playing our song" - Pere Ubu now on You Tube

As previously reported Pere Ubu, the avant-garage art-rockers from Cleveland, Ohio, have been mightily opposed to their material appearing on You Tube or elsewhere.

However news from the Ubu Projex website:
Recently there has been a change of policy as regards YouTube. This is due to the appointment of Robert Wheeler as Grocery Police Officer, now in charge of internet activities. He advocates a more liberal approach to uploading videos of the band, though he will continue to censor and instruct the removal of not-approved uploads. David remains opposed but acknowledges Robert's authority in this matter. For related matters email Robert.

As well as Grocery Police Officer, Robert Wheeler plays electronics in Pere Ubu, namely an EML-101 synthesizer and homemade Theremin. And you can see him playing said homemade Theremin about 2 minutes in to 'our' song.



This video and others are available to download in MV4 format from the Hearpen label website plus live recordings of the band, spoken word from David Thomas and high quality digital versions of the extensive Pere Ubu catalogue. And the reason you won't find this elsewhere?
We must find our proper niche. That niche will be the place where we can control our output and offer it on terms that we can live with. It is not possible to enter into a commercial contract without negotiating download rights. It is intensely frustrating to hear sound that we've spent months meticulously constructing being reduced to a dog's dinner with lousy encoding ratios. If it's going to be out there we want it reproduced in such a way as to adequately convey the meaning of the sound. So we'll do it ourselves. Follow this link for a detailed explanation of the technical and aesthetic decisions made.

'Folly of Youth' is from the 1995 album "Ray Gun Suitcase" which can be bought here, here or here. Highly recommended.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

TONIGHT IN MANCHESTER: Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band With Tim and Sam

Highly recommended to escape the wintry weather tonight in Manchester: the gorgeous instrumental post-folk of Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band With Tim and Sam.

Despite the tongue-twisting name I've always had a soft spot for Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band With Tim and Sam, since seeing them in 2007 at Cafe Saki with Liz Green and Bishop Allen. They'd sold out of their self-released 'Stepping Stones' EP but I managed to buy a CDR with colour photocopy insert from them which they assembled before my eyes. This cottage-industry DIY approach was charming but didn't prepare you for how good the music was. 2008 the saw the release of 'Put Your Slippers On' EP and then this year the release of 'Summer Solstice' - which I am sad to say I overlooked at the time.

Rough Trade Shops say it best as always:
It's a wonderful concoction which drifts effortlessly on the summer breeze, and recalls Sufjan Stevens in its spine-tingling simplicity. The four-piece's sprightly, windswept folk mines a seam which is reminiscent of Fence mainstays such as James Yorkston, while also being a close cousin of Shady Bard. Their slow-burning, pastoral sounds are expansive and littered with psych-folk flourishes, leaving you quietly swooning like watching blossom fall from the trees.

Tonight TSTSBTS (is this acceptable?) play The Bay Horse (Thomas St, Northern Quarter M4) with support from The Momeraths and The Search Map. Details are scarce - can't find any advance tickets, Last.fm event listing or price on the door but I'd guess you should aim to arrive for 8pm with some spare cash in your pocket. And expect a proper cosy 'night-in' whatever the weather outside.

And if you can't make this gigs in Watford, London, Oxford and Sheffield coming up.

STEPPING STONES
Stepping Stones EP
[BUY music & merchandise]

Monday, November 16, 2009

'I could be the sunlight in your eyes couldn't I?' Tune-Yards "Bird-brains"

Tune-Yards (or tUnE-yArDS to be correct) is the musical alias of Merrill Garbus and her debut album on 4AD "Bird-brains" is out today. It is an astonishingly animated experimental pop record that is soothing and unsettling in equal measure - and comes highly recommended.

Recorded with digital voice recorder and shareware mixing software, the album feels distinctly 'demo' and does not try to hide these origins. It is thrillingly inventive - combining toy-box rhythms, kitchen utensil percussion, sing-song verses and tribal chants to great effect. I was captivated on first listen. Stereogum described it as "a self-contained Sublime Frequencies compilation, jumping between blues, African tunes, shiny reggae-esque sprawls, and lo-fi folk" Mrs A's response was less effusive: "More like NO Tune-Yards".




Reviewing it elsewhere I got a bit carried away: "If Fever Ray’s album was the dark twilight world of insomnia directed by Ingmar Bergman, Tune-Yards’ record is a sunshine-lawn double-dutch-skip directed by David Lynch". Forget and forgive the waxing lyrical and just enjoy a great, great record.

If "Bird-brains" is not enough Tune-Yards for you, then sign up on her website to receive an mp3 plus there is a Karn remix of 'Hatari' free to download on the 4AD site. And if you buy the limited edition version of the album from Piccadilly Records or Rough Trade it comes with a 5 song DVD including the one from the 4AD sessions above.

SUNLIGHT
Tune-Yards
Bird-brains [BUY or BUY]

Monday, November 09, 2009

THE MISERABLE RICH @ FUEL, MANCHESTER 9 November 2009

Seeing The Miserable Rich only 3 weeks after seeing the band play in a church in Salford feels like a luxury. Seeing them for FREE feels like sheer indulgence. This was a Red Deer Club night - three acts for nowt, with a cup passed around for donations, in the upstairs room at Fuel Cafe Bar in Withington, South Manchester. A cup?! Should have at least been a large mug...

Kathryn Edwards was on first without her usual accompanying cellist who ("cow") was on holiday. Six or so gorgeous songs about heartbreak, parting and weirdoes, lovely relaxed guitar playing but best of all her voice: quietly powerful, soaring and given extra charm through the occasional flat Northern vowel. Not just your run-of-the-mill folkie but something quite special. Her "Play A Game" EP is on sale via Piccadilly Records.

Inspector Tapehead are a three piece from Scotland (although that lead singer sounds suspiciously English). They provide a ramshackle Scots hoe-down on drums, guitar, organ pedals, keyboards and electronics. Final song ('Forensic Tear'?) featured a whistling duet and a kazoo that lit up and reminded me of a lo-fi Beta Band with a bit more human warmth.

The Miserable Rich were in town for a Marc Riley 6 Music session - listen again here until 15 November. Crushed into a standing-room-only corner of the upstairs room of a veggie cafe in the heart of studentville, singer James said (understatement) this would be a more "informal set". However even just playing for fun this was quality stuff - superior songs and great musicianship.





The band broke their self-imposed rule and played two covers in one set (well they do have an EP of covers out on Monday) plus four songs from their second album due early next year. A small and appreciative crowd managed to get a second encore out of them (obviously no stage to leave) which was generous of the band given they then had to drive back to Brighton after finishing.

The Set List:
Early Mourning
Summerhill
The Boat Song
Bye Bye Kitty
The Time That's Mine
Wolfie
Shades
Golden Brown
Monkey
Pisshead
---
Muswell
Chestnut Sunday

Three artists - plus all the others involved in putting tonight on - giving their time and their music generously for free. I just don't understand the economics (if any) of the music business sometimes. Odds are you weren't there and couldn't donate to the tip jar. However don't let that stop you checking out all three and if you like what you hear, putting some of your hard-earned record dollars their way. Deserving causes all.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

YO LA TENGO @ MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2, 7 November 2009

"Good to see Yo La Tengo are attracting a younger crowd" I thought arriving at the Students' Union building to see the queue of tweenagers waiting to get into tonight's sold out show. Then I realised they were here to see 3Oh!3 (me neither). Once inside it was much more the audience demographic I expected - and not simply a group of record store clerks as suggested mischievously by The Onion. The crowd was largely quiet and - surprisingly - reserved during the concert except for the frequent cries for 'Freebird' (will this never go away??).

Recent Yo La Tengo records, including new album "Popular Songs", tend to have roughly three types of song: the quiet and tender, the loud and fast, or the longer, ten-minute-plus, starting-quieter-ending-louder, largely instrumental jams. And tonight all three were well represented. Given the trio - Ira Kaplan guitars/keyboards, Georgia Hubley drums and James McNew bass - have been in existence since 1984 there were always going to be omissions from tonight's 1 hour and 40 minute set which I'll try not to get hung up about (but no 'Blue Line Swinger'! No 'Autumn Sweater'!).

The sound in Academy 2 was great tonight especially considering this was just a three piece band delivering it. But they had come prepared - they had a LOT of kit with them. I think I counted at least four different keyboards dotted across the stage and there was a guitar roadie on stage throughout constantly preparing and tuning a bank of guitars to hand to Ira. Only for Ira to instantly de-tune it and then give it a proper thrashing. When playing Ira contorts his body as much as the guitar, often lifting his right arm high up at shoulder to plunge it across the strings. Great to watch as ever - but surprised he hasn't got some joint problems.

New songs came across well, even ones I hadn't really paid attention to like 'Avalon or Someone Very Similar' and 'When It's Dark'. Highlights for me: an acoustic version of 'Black Flowers' with the three band members at the front of the stage - James singing and playing acoustic guitar, Georgia on percussion and Ira with electric guitar - which was hauntingly lovely. And set closer 'Pass The Hatchet, I Am Goodkind' was magnificently dark and twisted.

The large cloth backdrop for tonight was of scattered buttons, all different sizes, textures and colours. At first this was quite calming and reassuringly twee; but towards the end as they plunged into a some of the louder, fuzzier songs ('Sugarcube', 'Tom Courtenay', 'Nowhere To Hide') and as the lights starting to swirl, it became more psychedelic and even menacing. The trio of encores included a tribute to Manchester in a cover of Dylan's 'I Wanna Be Your Lover' with Euros Childs joining the band: "we couldn't think of any Manchester bands... then remembered "Bob Dylan at the Albert Hall" was recorded here". All in all, a great evening of quality music from one of America's finest. Despite those omissions.

Support was from Euros Childs touring his new album "Son of Euro Child". It was a short thirty minute, nine song set but with plenty to enjoy. His solo work smoothes out some of the psychedelic quirkiness of early Gorky's but still has a weird humour and casual charm all of its own. He is endearingly nervous at being booted off the stage and also tells some tall tales: he claims 'When I First Saw You' was co-written with Ian McShane "whilst I was house-sitting for him in the South of France". 'Outside My Window' featured guitar played through the smallest amp in the world ("watch out for the reverb") which he bought because he wanted something easy to carry not being able to drive. It sounded astonishing. A national treasure.

PERIODICALLY TRIPLE OR DOUBLE
Yo La Tengo
Popular Songs [BUY]

TOM COURTENAY
Yo La Tengo
Electr-o-pura [BUY]

LIKE THIS THEN TRY THIS
Euros Childs
Son of Euro Child [BUY]

Thursday, November 05, 2009

TONIGHT IN MANCHESTER: Mark Eitzel

In a week of 'event' gigs (Daniel Johnston at Manchester Town Hall, Grizzly Bear and St Vincent at Manchester Cathedral), this 'lesser' event may have missed your attention. Mark Eitzel, singer-songwriter, leader of American Music Club, and king of despair and heartbreak is playing in a church in Whally Range.

Promoter Hey Manchester gives a good summary of Mark's career which is handy as I haven't kept up with Mark/the reformed AMC for most of the noughties. So I can't comment on the later records but his late 80s/early 90s material is highly recommended. If you look at All Music's list of 'Moods' to describe American Music Club the first ten are: Sardonic, Brooding, Angst-Ridden, Cynical/ Sarcastic, Wry, Melancholy, Earnest, Cerebral, Literate, Acerbic, Witty. Don't be put off: the bitterness of Mark Eitzel's lyrics are off-set by the passionate delivery and the quality of song-writing. And tonight is a solo piano performance which will had a touch of grandeur to already majestic songs like 'Johnny Mathis' Feet'.




Mark Eitzel playing solo piano. Support coming from two other piano-players, Franz Nicolay (of The Hold Steady) and Aidan Smith. In St Margaret's Church in Whally Range. Perfect to shelter from the fireworks and bad weather. And most certainly an 'event'. Grab advance tickets while you can.

WESTERN SKY
Mark Eitzel
Songs of Love Live [BUY]

WISH THE WORLD AWAY
American Music Club
San Francisco [BUY]

Monday, November 02, 2009

BOWERBIRDS / MY SAD CAPTAINS @ DULCIMER 1 November 2009

After plenty of travelling in the last few days including yesterday's trip to Cambridge, it was good to be going to a more local gig. However both tonight's bands had put in the miles to get here: My Sad Captains from London, Bowerbirds coming from slightly further away, North Carolina.

This was my third time seeing My Sad Captains (End of the Road in 2007, then earlier this year at the Windmill) but first in their slimmed down version. Now a four piece (Ed Wallis guitar/vocals, Jack Swayne bass, Nick Goss guitar/melodica, Jim Wallis drums) they are still able to replicate the beautiful and subtle orchestrations of their records but this did involve all four members, including at times Jim the drummer, also doubling up on some form of keyboard/electronic device.

If singer Ed Wallis can appear hesitant or even apologetic introducing songs, there's nothing hesitant about the music. It's timeless and superior indie-pop with a hint of Americana (and possibly - tonight's debate - The Go Betweens?). Troubled or troubling relationships, miscommunication and break-up are some of the themes of their songs but whether the atmospheric 'You Talk All Night', the poignant 'A Change of Scenery' or the pop-rush of 'All Hat No Plans' the songs are joyous to hear. Great to hear the set-closer 'Bad Decisions' - the single on Fortuna Pop where I first came across the band.



'There's another video of 'You Talk All Night' from tonight also on You Tube.

The band are touring in support of this year's debut album "Here and Elsewhere". As is the case with touring on this scale there is no money in it and bands only cover their costs if they are able to shift a few CDs, T-shirts etc on the night ("Birmingham was good; Leicester wasn't"). If you're seeing them on the remaining dates (Sheffield, Wakefield, Cardiff, Portsmouth, London, Brighton, Bristol) make sure you take some extra spends for some of the goodies on offer some of which you can't buy elsewhere (tour only CD EP! Tour poster!) and if you're not going you can still buy some music here. The album - definitely in my top ten of the year - is highly, highly recommended.

The Set List:
"They're gone and so are we?"
All Hat No Plans
You Talk All Night
Told You So
"Poor Communication?"
Here and Elsewhere
A Change of Scenery
Bad Decisions
Bowerbirds are a three piece: Phil Moore on vocals/acoustic guitar, Beth Tacular on accordion/keyboards and vocals, and Yan Westerlund on drums. They play sometimes-ragged, sometimes-soothing alt-folk pop, strong on harmonies and stuffed with references to nature and the elements.

On record Bowerbirds can be quite a demanding listen - a bit too wayward and over-doing the lyricism at times. Tonight in such an intimate setting (I am not sure I have stood this close to an accordion before) and with central duo Phil and Beth exuding a relaxed and genial air, it was a very pleasant and agreeable set. And I don't mean to damn with faint praise.



All three players had little physical tics that not only matched the quirks and rhythms of the songs but also seemed to accompany and smooth them out: the right hand side of Phil's mouth rising on certain notes, Beth's extreme arching of her back whilst playing the accordion, drummer Yan's random shoulder lifts and brow-furrows.

Their set mixed songs from both albums (I managed to lose the set list I was keeping). 'Bur Oak' seemed to be a crowd favourite but I equally enjoyed the more recent songs. They finished with unamplified three-part harmonising and then a 'plugged in' version of 'Bright Future'. All that was missing was a campfire.

ALL HAT NO PLANS
My Sad Captains
Here and Elsewhere [BUY]

TEETH
Bowerbirds
Upper Air [BUY]

Sunday, November 01, 2009

THE BROKEN FAMILY BAND @ THE PORTLAND ARMS 31 October 2009

All the best wakes are proper parties. And so it was with the final gig by The Broken Family Band. How to organise your own send-off: book the local pub in Cambridge (the one where you played your first gig), invite family and friends for one last hoorah and ask them all to wear fancy dress (it being Halloween). And then throw in a little extra: a mid-afternoon acoustic performance in the pub's lounge bar. Despite the distance from Manchester, Mr P and I felt compelled to make the journey to be there.

The Portland Arms is a cosy, oak-panelled, traditional boozer in which the trappings of the modern pub - Sky Sports, chalkboards full of offers and deals, quiz machine - are slowly invading. But this afternoon the quiz machine was switched off and cosiness prevailed as Cambridge's finest - Steven Adams - guitar/vocals, Jay Williams - guitar, Gavin Johnson - bass, and Mickey Roman - drums - gave their next to last performance. It was a performance with "no set list and no volume" claimed a nervous singer ("for the record this is terrifying"). But they did have a set-list (see below) and if no volume they certainly added plenty of emotion and passion to their playing.



With a row of costumed kids cross-legged in front of a packed bar, this hour-long set had the feel of a Halloween kids party meets a family get-together.


Old songs predominated and despite passing police sirens, a crying baby and the odd joke ("it was never about being in tune"), there was a real poignancy to the first half of the set - especially 'Poor Little Thing'. Mr P has to brush a way a tear or two at times.

They picked up the pace and the mood towards the end and even played ("as requested by Waldorf and Statler here") 'Walking Back To Jesus Part Two' - probably the one song I wanted to hear most today. It was the song that first got me hooked on The Broken Family Band.

The 4pm Acoutic Set List
Mimi
Kissing in the Rain
Queen of the Sea
Poor Little Thing
Devil in the Details
Cocktail Lounge
Give and Take
Twelve Eyes of Evil
(I Don't Have The Time To) Mess Around
Living in Sin
The Mardi Gras Rescue Mission
Don't Leave That Woman Unattended
John Belushi
Walking Back To Jesus Part Two
Song Against Robots

So a leisurely pub meal followed and then back to the hotel for a quick change into fancy dress before returning to The Portland Arms. The evening performance was in The Gig Room. This is your classic pub-back-room venue: a small, dimly-lit square room with a low riser stage against a back wall covered in randomly affixed sound-proofing tiles. Apparently it holds 100 but Mr P and I couldn't think of a smaller room that we had seen a professional gig in. Cosy.

The room was decked in 'sorry you're leaving' banners and helium-filled balloons. The audience were a motley mix of ghouls, skeletons and witches plus a bumble bee, Wonder Woman, the Pope and the Grim Reaper. When the band came just after 9pm they were greeted with warm, supportive cheers and applause.

The first five songs were a rip-roaring ride - clearly not a band going out quietly - with the audience egging them on. In closing moments of 'It's All Over' when guitarist Jay let out a howl, the audience howled back in delight. In 'The Perfect Gentleman', the line about "dressing up in women's underwear / under these clothes" brought out a chorus of wolf whistles. This genial, good-humoured atmosphere with wedding-party banter and name-checks took an abrupt turn with 'Cocktail Lounge': its bleak, alcohol-laced despair turning elation to sombre reflection. Such mood swings have always been part of the music of The Broken Family Band - sometimes even in the same song.

It was becoming a hot, sweaty room - made hotter for most by wearing fancy dress. But it didn't seem to dampen anyone's spirits as the party rolled on. "Here's another song we swore we would never play again. But these are sentimental times" led into 'Don't Leave That Woman Unattended' with Timothy Victor singing backing vocals in comedy moustache and eyebrows. It had become that kind of evening.

The room was full of girlfriends, siblings, close friends and family - Mr P and I felt very privileged to be part of this. And lucky. Begging is never dignified but this time it worked. However we also brought something to the party, namely a BFB-themed cake baked by Ms N. We handed it over to Steven pre-gig and then the cake sat proudly on top of one of the speaker cabinets before being 'presented' to the audience just before 'Song Against Robots': "the opening line is "There's no food here I can eat" but there is".



So after twenty three songs, a final four encores - although the band never actually left the stage - finishing with 'John Belushi' and a goodbye: "Thank you. We were The Broken Family Band". The four band members gave each other hug and stepped off the stage. And that was it. BFB broken up. Earlier Steven has said "after tonight we will only exist on the internet". "And in our hearts" was the lightning quick response from the crowd. How true. Thank you Broken Family Band for throwing such a good send-off party and for inviting us. And thanks too for all the good times over the years since I first heard 'Walking Back To Jesus Part Two'. Sadly, happy days will not be here again.

The Set List
It's All Over
Salivating
The Booze and the Drugs
Living in Sin
The Perfect Gentleman
Cocktail Lounge
Hey Captain
Give and Take
Dancing On The Fourth Floor
A Place You Deserve
At The Back Of The Chapel
You're Like A Woman
Where The Hell Is My Baby?
Walking Back To Jesus Part Two
Song Against Robots
Queen Of The Sea
Kissing In The Rain
(I Don't Have The Time To) Mess Around
Don't Leave That Woman Unattended
The Mardi Gras Rescue Mission
Borrowed Time
Leaps
Don't Change Your Mind
---
Happy Days Are Here Again
Please Yourself
Devil In The Details
John Belushi

WALKING BACK TO JESUS PART TWO
The Broken Family Band
Jesus Songs [BUY or BUY]

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN
The Broken Family Band
Welcome Home Loser [BUY or BUY]