Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Voluntary Butler Scheme / The Lights / LP45 / Beneva @ The Rainbow, Friday January 9th 2009

The first week back at work after Christmas is always a funny time. Given that, on Tuesday, I discovered that I’m one of 250 people in my company that faces possible redundancy in the next 30 days or so perhaps ‘funny’ isn’t the right word. However, as my old friend Doc Delete puts it on his site, there are a lot of people worse off than any of us. Happily I’ve never been one for over consumerism, however this ‘downturn’ will certainly force others to take a long, hard look at life and perhaps they’ll be all the happier for it. I didn’t really learn much at school but, the one thing I picked up from my economics A level was that the economy is a living thing. It can’t be ‘controlled’, for every boom there WILL be a bust. It’s like the changing of the seasons. You have the first shoots of growth in the spring, the glorious boom of summer, a chance to gather in the harvest in the autumn then everything dies down in winter. The more glorious the summer (and the last 15 years or so have been extraordinary) the more of a shock the winter will be. It’s simple, billy basics economics…but sadly many, many people (including our beloved leaders) seem to have missed that lesson. Maybe they were round the back of the bike sheds having a crafty roll up?

Anyway, I’m wittering on again. If you’ve been sensible over the last few years you should be alright and yes, there are more important things than two weeks in the sun or the latest Crackberry. I was reminded of this by the first band of the night, Beneva. Billed as harmonic pop (and they are), they’re sunshine for the ears, a big warm musical hug on a freezing cold January night. In the grand tradition of English pop (from the Kinks via Madness right through to Dodgy) they write tunes about life, love and…er…stalkers, all performed with lovely plinky plonky piano that cheers you up with the very first first plink. Tonight’s gig was played in tribute to one of their biggest fans who died on Monday, aged just 31. This announcement by the band (midway through the set)…and indeed most of their songs…reminds you of the simple pleasures of life that we all perhaps take for granted. I found their entire set a treat from beginning and can heartily recommend a listen.

Next up LP45. Woah. These chaps can play. It's a curious mix...jazz, rock, classical, easy listening, Jeff Buckley, Muse, Robert Wyatt...but it works really, really...I'll say it again...really well. Lead LP, Simon, has that Buckley tinge to his voice that I just love. I enjoyed his between song banter too. So many bands forget to enjoy themselves. LP45 seemed to be loving it up there as much as I was loving it in the audience. Every single member of the group had mastered the subtleties of their instruments, which was nice to see (it's the notes you don't play as well as the ones you do...) and, I have to say, they have that magic ingredient X that could well see them making it. Awesomely good with a capital A. Check out Next Door (live) on their My Space page and feel that funk, jazz, rock, soul thang! Yum.

Third on the bill The Lights, purveyors of fine proper grown up pop. Lady B said they reminded her a little of Deacon Blue, leading Light, Liz, certainly has that same kind of powerful, emotive voice. I liked the rockier stuff myself, in particular The Score (which I think is coming out as a single soon). You've gotta love a track that starts with a whoo hoo who hoo. Top marks to Liz for her dress tonight too. 50's tastic.

Last up, The Voluntary Butler Scheme, a name I've been hearing a lot of good stuff about recently...and I can see why. Like the other bands on tonight's bill they've got a pop heart and soul, this time with a late 60's flavour...kind of the Go Team meets Sesame Street meets John Lennon. And if that isn't an intriguing combination then I don't know what is. The lyrics are a delight. Listen to Trading Things In on their My Space page..."just like coffee and tea I need you regularly"...wise words. And how about FFffoolish. See what I mean about the 60's vibe? It's bubblegum with a hint of hash. The spirit of The Byrds is alive and well and living Stourbridge. Who'd a thunk it eh? You know those 'who's gonna be the next big thing in music' polls that they have every year? I have a feeling The Voluntary Butler Scheme should've been on 'em. Hell, they were even played on Soccer AM this morning. Premier league.


Si said...

ey up! tar very much for your kind words is really appreciated, glad you had a gooden, hopefully catch you again soon.


The Baron said...

My pleasure Si. Thanks for an excellent set. Looking forward to the next time!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a lovely review! We're back in Brum on 9th Feb and 19th feb if you want to catch us again? Malc and Nathan (and Steve, and drummer to be).

Malc - Beneva

The Baron said...

My pleasure. I'll try to make one of the Feb dates too. All the best.

Malc said...

9th Feb isn't happening now, but 19th Feb is Epiliepsy Action Fundraiser at the Hare and Hounds!

Malc :-)