Continuing my series of 'Nights At The Rainbow' (having polished off Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) I give you number four - Thursdays. It's a funny night, Thursday. Not quite the end of the working week for most of us, last weekend's just a distant memory. Perhaps this explains the low turnout. I daresay the weather didn't help although, thanks to The Rainbow's swanky roll back roof, we were able to enjoy the dying embers of the day (see, you don't get poetry like this from other blogs eh? You probably don't want to...but that's a different matter altogether I guess).
First up Jamie Croft. Another great solo spot (saw him back in May, supporting Bryn Christopher) and, despite having only heard most of the songs just once they'd lodged firmly in my aging brain. Which is always the mark of quality songwriting and a top notch performance. He has a wonderfully laid back style, eyes closed and lost in the song, you get the feeling that this is someone who is as happy strumming away to himself as he is to an audience. Which, for me, is the right way round. Lots of standout moments, but Supergirl, Dance With The Devil and I'll Save You Tonight were all pretty close to 'acoustic arcadia'.
Heartfelt, honest, stripped back, real, quirky...call it what you want, Anti-folk captures something that a lot of more 'mainstream' music has lost. And Dizzy Spells Martian is a wonderful example of this. Like fellow Anti-folkster, Kimya Dawson, her performance is gentle, personal and deeply touching. It's almost like we're seeing inside her head. Like me it seems that Dizzy would rather like to live in another world. A much nicer world. And she brings to life one that I'd be quite happy to live in forever and ever and ever...have a listen to Come Along With Us (on her My Space page) and I'll see you inside that tree.
I've not seen Gary Nock without his band...but this was his first gig with one. Nice and tight, they'd clearly put in the hours and, after the stripped back performances of the first two artists, this came on like Led Zepp in a thunderstorm. Listening to his solo My Space stuff, and comparing it to the full band performance, I'd probably plump for the full band. Both have their strengths but he really seemed to buzz off having people to play with. It felt right, it looked right and by heaven it sounded right.
Last up Toby Goodshank. Toby (once a Moldy Peach) is a true star of the Anti-folk scene. Like Jeffrey Lewis he's an artist (in the drawing sense of the word) too, but unlike Jeffrey (and a number of fellow Anti-folksters) his voice is incredibly powerful and rich. Many of the lyrics have an equal depth to them, full of potent imagery that would give Phil Ochs and Decemberists fans something to get their teeth into. Take a listen to Bad Dream on his MySpace page for a classic example of what I'm banging on about. This was a simply stunning performance, the kind that you feel lucky to have seen and, like many of the Anti-folk themed gigs I've seen over the years, it goes right into my list of favourites. If you're in Bristol, Brighton or London over the next three days (26th, 27th and 28th) you must...MUST...go and see Toby and Dizzy. Give 'em a hug, buy the merch and give them the send off (these are the last few dates of their UK tour) they both deserve.
PS: A special mention must go to Greg, sometime member of She's A Kamikaze Machine and full time Theatre Of The Absurd (he appears to have cancelled his My Space page so I can't give you a link), for his two wonderfully spirited guest slots (he played with Dizzy and Toby). If he reads this, Noel Coward sends his love and Quentin would like his chair back!