Saturday, February 13, 2010


Do Fanfarlo ever stop touring? It seems this short UK tour is only a brief respite between mammoth coast-to-coast treks across North America. No Manchester dates on this February UK tour (given they played the Deaf Institute three times last year I suppose they can be forgiven) but with the Brudenell Social Club always being such a pleasure to visit, a trip to Leeds was called for; especially for such an enticing line-up as this.

First band on was Welsh psyche-popsters Race Horses starting their set to a chilly and quite sparse early-doors crowd. At least a third of the set was songs not on last month’s debut album or the preceding EP; clearly they are prolific song-writers. Played live the songs from said album and EP and new ones (‘Alpine Resort’) emphasised their youthful energy and the late-60s references - backed up by singer Meilyr Jones bowl-cut, roll-neck jumper and straight-leg trousers plus the vintage keyboards. However they finished with a series(?) of songs that alternated heavy 70s rock style riffs with quieter choral singing that finished in Sonic Youth style de-tuned guitars and feedback. Thrilling stuff.

Jesca Hoop appeared next as a “palette-cleanser” between the two bands. The American (now resident in the UK) played intricate, often quirky rhythms on acoustic guitar and songs included a murder ballad, a nightmare remembered and a response to her mother’s stomach cancer. Not a bundle of laughs then but delivered with a relaxed demeanour (she’s got to be Californian right?) and an impressive vocal range. Mr P however was not impressed and chose to nap during the entire set on the Brudenell floor. However Jesca attracted an enthusiastic response from the rest of the crowd.

If Fanfarlo never stop touring, it doesn’t appear to be wearing them down. They may not be the smiliest of bands when performing but their live versions of songs old and new is passionate, precise and a joy to behold. The constant touring does however show in their well-drilled performance: singer/guitarist Simon reaches his hand out during ‘Luna’ and violinist/mandolin-player Cathy is already putting the clarinet in his grasp. It was like watching Olympic relay runners passing the baton perfectly.

For a five-piece they recreate the different rhythms, the subtle orchestrations and passion of “Resevoir” beautifully. Three-fifths of the band may quite slight in build but there isn’t anything diminutive about their presence or their performance. As much as I enjoyed the supports, I could have watched them all night. My only disappointment was when final song - I was expecting 'Drowning Men' - was announced as a Fleetwood Mac cover. As well as several older songs (not sure 'Tuesday (You Come When We Call)' was actually played although on the set list below) the two new ones 'Atlas' and 'Waiting in the Wings' sounded very promising.

The Set List:

The Walls Are Coming Down
Fire Escape
Waiting in the Wings
We Live By The Lake
I‘m A Pilot
Tuesday (You Come When We Call) [on set list but not sure if played?]
Finishing Line
Harold T Wilkins
You Are One Of The Few Outsiders Who Really Understands Us
What Makes You Think You’re The One? (Fleetwood Mac cover)

Fanfarlo are back to the States after a Brighton gig on Saturday night but are return to the UK in March supporting Mumford and Sons. Fanfarlo, a request: please take a break from touring soon to record the follow-up to "Resevoir". Please?

Resevoir [BUY]

Race Horses
Goodbye Falkenberg [BUY]

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