It was the first gig I'd seen in the all new Town Hall since it reopened after a lengthy period in mothballs, scaffolding and builders bums. For my money reopening it is one of the best things Birmingham City Council has done in a long time. Hurrah. Now we just have to make sure that (a) they (the powers that be) put on or allow others to put on decent events and (b) people get off their ass and go. Easy eh?
Capsule (one of Birmingham's gems bless 'em) put on a typically varied and eclectic mix of sounds tonight, kicking off with indie folksters Shady Bard. According to their My Space page their first EP and promo copies of their new album have been fetching £100 on ebay. Beat that Radiohead. Musically they do quiet bits that morph into quite loud bits...then back to quiet bits. It's all very English. Very Folky. And very lovely.
Next up the frankly unique (a word you can't often use these days) and rather splendid Modified Toy Orchestra. Consisting of kiddies toys, some bastardised to within an inch of their life, plugged into bloody great speakers it all makes me feel a little like a small child must do when it's parents stuff things into its cot to keep it quiet. The scary doll creature with wires coming out of its head (see the picture above) is a particular object of fascination for me. What made the performance extra special though were the projections behind the band, especially the one with the little grey elephant (Freeno and Olaf I believe it's called). It made me feel all wibbly. Which I guess is the point (a fond farewell to Mike who left the band this evening...who's going to sing Pocket Calculator now eh?).
Also making me feel wibbly (for different reasons) were headliners Pram. They too have projections, although unlike the MTO pieces, most of these were the stuff that nightmares, rather than dreams, are made of. Many of the 'videos' consisted of surrealist scenes, possibly from the dawn of cinema, the band were also flanked on either side by disturbing white balls that featured 3 masked characters seemingly stuck inside but trying to escape. With the distinctly 60's sound and fairytale vocals I kept thinking of an episode of the Avengers...or maybe the Prisoner (I guess that would explain the white balls). Some of the audience got it...some, I felt, did not. But that's the beauty of an event like this...it makes you think. I could've watched and listened all night, whatever it may have done to my fragile mental state. Hurrah to the Town Hall for reopening, hurrah to the bands, hurrah to Capsule, hurrah to all the bloggers who have taken the time and trouble to write up the event...but boo to the bar charging £3.00 for bottles of beer and £3.50 for a small glass of vino. That's more than the Academy! Boo and indeed hiss.
PS: I went to see The Rumble Strips the following night in a mad fit of GDFAF-ness...the review will follow...honest