Tuesday, March 09, 2010


The Miserable Rich were the band I saw live the most last year including last May at this venue when they supported Woodpigeon. But that wasn’t going to stop me seeing them headline tonight on this tour to promote new single ‘Somerhill/Bye Bye Kitty’ (and no doubt I’ll be back again when - as promised tonight - the band return to promote new album “Of Flight and Fury”. Whenever that is finally released).

First up was the antique blues guitar rags of Jamie Harrison. Seated centre-stage and delightfully engaging, he alternated finger-picked instrumentals with often witty and fast-paced songs. Definitely want to hear more.

There was then a quick turn around for Sara Lowes. She has one album out (on Red Deer Club – same as Jamie Harrison) and like The Miserable Rich a new one due soon. And like them she was unclear about exactly when. She swapped between guitar and piano both seated (apparently she stood up last week: but went all “elvis leg”) accompanied by drummer and multi-instrumentalist Gareth. Very engaging and likeable like Jamie, what really impressed was the versatility and great sound from the duo: Sara played kazoo on one song whilst strumming guitar; Gareth played keyboards whilst still drumming one handed. There was a delightful moment when he finished one song playing trombone from behind the drum-kit – and then much shared laughter when it took him five attempts to work a loop pedal properly to record said trombone for their final song. The music didn’t grab my attention as much as Jamie Harrison but she got a great reception tonight.

So an evening of likeable, good looking folk led us to the likeable, good-looking headliners, here playing as five-piece. They started with ‘Early Mourning’ – but something wasn’t quite right. Was it the very apparent amplification on the strings sounding too raw? Was it the band were a bit tense? Was it an effect of a decent-sized but less-than-packed Deaf Institute audience putting too much distance between themselves and the stage? Possibly it was none of these – maybe I have just been spoiled by the ultra-intimate and magical setting of Sacred Trinity Church in Salford last year.

With the mirrorball switched off and the band caught in two strong spotlights, the Music Hall feel of the Deaf Institute was really made plain. The Miserable Rich clearly didn’t enjoy the distant audience so asked for people to move closer from the stage. And things definitely got better from this point. There were the new songs that we heard played live last year but also two new-to-me songs including their ‘grunge’ song (it’s not). By the end of the main set and on familiar territory they had truly hit their stride with a beautifully delivered trio of songs from the first album: ‘Poodle’, ‘Monkey’ and ‘Pisshead’. During the three encores we also got a polite plea to help save 6Music: “if you want a chocolate bar, you got out for one. If you want to keep this radio station, write a letter”.

I’ve seen other performances from The Miserable Rich that have been more ‘special’ but after a nervy start this was still a great set from a group of consummate professionals. I picked up a neat package of the 7” single + CD of ‘Somerhill/Bye Bye Kitty’ + postcard + poster in hand-painted sleeve on the night. Sadly the waiting game for new album continues - it will be out “in a couple of months” not ‘March’ as expected around these parts.

The Set List:

Early Mourning
New Song ['Everybody Knows It Grows']
The Boat Song
The Time That’s Mine
Bye Bye Kitty
New Song ['I Got High Again']
Chestnut Sunday

The Miserable Rich
Twelve Ways To Count [BUY]

Sara Lowes
Back To Creation EP [BUY]

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