Monday, January 22, 2007
Ghosts / Prospect Lane / The Hoi Poloi / Ben Calvert Birmingham Barfly Wednesday 17th January 2007
Slack. I am very slack. I have an excuse for posting this review a full 5 days after the event though...the words Dublin and red wine are involved. Nuff said.
Right ho. Ben Calvert. Very good. He didn't really make much of a impression on me at the Moseley Folk Festival las year but that could've been down to the earliness of his set and / or the rain. Tonight he was hampered by slightly dodgy acoustics. The Barfly probably ain't the best place to see a singer/songwriter with a good streak of Barrett, Belle and Sebastian and Nick Drake running through him but the songs really stood out well. Silas added some solid 'double bassness' too which complimented the voice and lyrics like a glass of port with a fine stilton (I am available for speech writing, christenings, wedding vows...).
Next up were The Hoi Poloi. Musically they had some good moments and were pretty polished for a local band, but the lead singer distracted me by pulling some of the most ridiculous rock star faces in history. Ever. Please stop it.
Prospect Lane came on next and were a really pleasent surprise. They've got a rocky / slightly electro thing going on in places...hints of Depeche Mode on tracks like Ghost but difficult to pin down stylistically. They're a good looking bunch of guys too (oh how metrosexual am I?) which, even in these enlightened times, does matter when it comes to 'making it'. What I also liked was that they didn't seem too blokey. A number of Brum bands are taking the Arctic Monkeys as a big steer and creating music just for the terraces. Prospect Lane seemed a lot more sophisticated than all that. Don't get me wrong, I love a bit of shouty chorus, in fact I'm getting moist just thinking abou it, but vive le difference as we say in Bearwood. Prospect Lane (sound bite ahoy), a band with real prospects. In fact I could even imagine them playing the NEC to a crowd of adoring fans. Go see them and tell me if I'm wrong (I won't listen to you because I'm a Taurus, but hey, free speech and all that).
Finally, Ghosts - one of my top tips for 2007 - didn't disappoint. They do have a distinctly 80's vibe sound wise...I'm thinking more your ABC than Black Box. Catchy song followed catchy song and they're surely destined to have the same level of cross audience (by that I mean all sorts of audiences like them, not angry audiences, why would angry audiences like them? Then again the music does have a feel good quality so maybe...are you still reading this? Good, well done. Full marks for stamina) success as The Feeling had last year. The World Outside Your Window is a lush classic that sits comfortably next to the very best in British pop and live it was even better. Soaring vocals and beautiful orchestration. A number of the audience drifted off before the end of the set which staggered me, but then quite a few were probably friends, fans and family of the previous artists so maybe they didn't know what they were missing.
On an unrelated note it appears that some people are actually reading The Hearing Aid now. This is a good thing. If you are one of them I thank you. If you want to see more of anything (or less) just let me know. Similarly if you want me to review your band in my own half arsed style (some would say unique, I quite like half arsed, or even quarter arsed on a good day) just let me know and I will try to drag my ravaged frame out to see you. Especially if you play at the Barfly, Jug of Ale or Bar Academy 'cos I like these venues...thanks. I'll shut up now. Really. There. See. Bye. Okay, there's nothing to see here (who said 'no change there then'?)