Saturday, December 20, 2008

Envy & Other Sins / The Heathers / Mr Bones and the Dreamers / Tom Peel @ The Rainbow, Digbeth Thursday 18th December 2008

My oh my....Christmas is taking it's time this year isn't it? Happily we have the annual Envy & Other Sins Christmas bash to keep us all going - a musical figgie pudding (whatever that is). First up Tom Peel. Last time I saw him I was very, very drunk. This time I was (sensible chap that I am) very, very sober. Would it take the edge off? Not a bit of it. Tom's a delight. Like a Lonnie Donnegan for the 21st Century (and boy does the 20th Century need a Lonnie Donnegan). Folk, bluesy tales of biblical bods and a ukelele...only Tom could make it work. But work it does.

Next up the 7 headed hydra that is Mr Bones & The Dreamers. There's a magic ingredient here. Like the sixpence in a Christmas pud (or should that be 0.2 wait...0.1 bugger) the hidden treat in Mr Bones is the violin! Oh yes. I do love a bit of fiddling and, whilst the rest of the band make a mighty fine noise, the violin is the fairy on the tree (feeling Christmassy enough yet?). Stylistically there's a bit of The Levellers, Waterboys and The Decemberists - anthemic stomp alongs with more thoughtful lyrics than your average bear. Lead Bone, Ryan, has a fine voice too, almost choral in places tonight and it all rocked along jolly well.

Third band of the night were the all new and improved Heathers (now with added Rachel!). Having split with Dave, their former lead singer, Rachel - regularly seen (wo)manning the doors at the weekly 444 Club stepped up to da mic. This was their first show together so you might expect it to be a bit shakey. But it weren't. Rachel has the voice, the moves and a rather sassy stage presence. Hell, this was their FIRST gig together! Colour me impressed. Shades of The Cardigans, Edie Brickell (according to Lady B) and (the late, great) Beautiful South in other words clever, catchy pop that many bands would give a kidney for. I'll be fascinated to see how they develop from here...

Finally, the main event, Envy & Other Sins. After winning C4's new band contest thingy and a £1m record deal the 'NME' turned against the group and went all sniffy. But then, the NME today is a sad shadow of it's former self - a tired comic that's full of posters, ads, letters about how one band is 'like well shite' and another is 'ohmigodsoamazin' and very little else. I stopped buying it (having been an avid reader for 20 years) after they tried to attack Morrissey again for no good reason (I believe he's in the process of suing them...good). Anyway, the point is that (there is a point here somewhere), Envy & Other Sins were a darn fine band before the contest (I ranted about them on this very site a couple of years back) and are every bit as good today. I'm not a fan of talent contests, but I recognise their appeal to viewers and participants. To diss anyone purely for winning one of these shows is a very, very bad thing. Envy deserved to win and they deserve to 'make it'...whatever that means these days. Highness is a cracking track. Genius indie pop. They have style, grace and flair (plus rather nice standard lamps and a stuffed pheasant). And they seem to be genuinely nice chaps. Whatever happens record label and press wise they must...stick two fingers up and do their thing. If the internet is doing one thing it's gradually rubbing out the mass media and putting some vague degree of power in the hands of the public. The mass media don't like this. It's a clear case of envy...and other sins. No Prodigal Son tonight, but a lovely cover of Jona Lewie's Stop The Cavalry more than made up for it. I can feel my bells start to jingle right now...


Marc said...

Well what do you expect the Heathers have it all!

Glad you see this also!

Great Reviews for all!

Marc McGovern

Ps Matt from the Heathers saved me from Drowning when i bumped my head in the swimming pool 5 years ago!

The Baron said...

Wow! Cool music AND life saving skills...they're surely destined for greatness.

Have a cool Yule (did I really just say that?!)