Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dan Smith / LP45 / Get Frank @ The Rainbow, Friday 29th May 2009

The world just looks better in the summertime don’t it? Looking back at my calendar I was surprised to discover that I was made redundant 15 whole weeks ago. Tempus fugit. The first few weeks were a little odd, after that I picked up a nice freelance project that keeps me pretty busy and pays the bills. One of the great joys of working this way is that you can, within reason, just decide to pack it all in for an afternoon and sit in the garden…chillaxin as the young folk might put it. That’s just what I did before tonight’s gig. Me. A garden. A good book…and just the gentle parping of traffic horns as commuters make their sticky way home. Bliss.

Against this backdrop of inner city reverie up popped Get Frank. I’ve been wanting to see Frankie Ward (lead singer of Get Frank…seemingly more of a collective than a band…sometimes it’s just her, tonight it was half a dozen people) for a while now after dipping in and out of her blog (which features a shed load of musical works in progress). She’s a busy bee. On top of acting in zombie films, producing radio shows, reviewing bands, appearing onstage with the Mystery Jets and discovering a cure for the common cold Frankie also writes, sings and plays the Uke. When I was her age I could barely be arsed to breath…hmmm…I’ve not really progressed much…still, know thy place that’s what I say. Or, as Quentin Crisp once put it, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style’. Anyway, the music…there’s some of the wit and verve of Regina Spektor in there, perhaps even a touch of Sandy Denny (I’m going though another one of my folk phases) and shades of another local star, the lovely Gemma Quarterman’s lush tones. Lyrically she’s as raw and honest as they come, check out ‘It’s Not You’…where she rails against soppy men and yearns for a bit of rough (she should try Bearwood…the place is full of ‘em) or 'Cautionary Tale'…a world weary lament on failed relationships that, along with a rousing ‘Nature Boy’ was one of the standout numbers tonight. This was the first time that Get Frank had performed as a six piece and, naturally enough, it was a bit ramshackle in places but that was part of the charm of it all. Frankie’s got a cracking voice and a charming stage presence, there was a good blast of sax (I do love a good blast of sax) and, given a few more gigs under their belts, the new six piece Get Frank experience will iron out any little niggles. I get a strong feeling that our Frank has just the right mix of talent and chutzpah (yes, chutzpah…I’m going through a bit of a Yiddish phase too alright already) to really get somewhere…one to watch.

Next up…and another one to watch…in fact I’ve already watched them once before and loved ‘em…LP45. These boys are sharp. The ghost of St Jeff of Buckley may loom over many artists but LP45 breath new life into his, by now, iconic sound. Adding an upbeat jazzy feel to the music lifts it out of the bedsit and into the sunlight and it just sounds bloody great (I’m sorry…that’s as eloquent as I get sometimes…’bloody great’…is it any surprise Rolling Stone magazine hasn’t come calling?). Frontman Simon is as charming and loveable as a dozen puppy dogs and seems incredibly modest and self effacing. This is a great band. Just go and listen to them. I can personally recommend the instrumental mentalism of ‘Asian Persuasion’, the scat jazz-tastic ‘Next Door’ and their jewel in da crown ‘All We Know’…the first single off their debut album…just as soon as someone signs ‘em. Why the hell haven’t they been snapped up label? You’re all fools…fools I tells ya…

Finally, Dan Smith. His recorded output features lush orchestral arrangements but tonight was more of a sparse affair (just him, a drummer and a bass player). He’s got a neat line in clever lyrical twists and that thing that Regina Spektor does when she draaawaaawwwaaaaawwwwsss out words. There’s a bit of Queen pomp here and there and the sort of catchy piano bits that Dame Elton used to do so well. Highlight of the set, 'Alchemy', starts off as Dan’s Muse song before taking a detour into dubby territory. Hell, why not? I particularly liked the bit where he recorded all sorts of instruments live, then looped them back. It’s not a new trick but few artists have pulled it off so well. A fitting end to an evening of musical loveliness…

PS: Britain’s got talent (this is the topical bit…unless you’re reading this in 2026…in which case Britain will probably have been rebranded…maybe Avivaland or Santanderville or some such nonsense...sigh) but it ain’t on the telly. It’s in the backrooms of our pubs and clubs (oooh...this is getting a bit Churchillian), in those little venues where people perform for the love of it all. Birmingham’s got a pretty vibrant live music scene right now (despite the best efforts of Birmingham City ‘Council’ and those fools who move into city centre apartments then moan about a little noise)…get yourselves out there and let’s keep it that way.

Enjoy the sunshine y’all.


Si said...

Cheers again bud, Again nothing but nice-aties think i made that one up, but i like it, is just really encouragin to hear people liking what we do, so thankyou very much hope to catch you again soon! Si

as for the puppy dogs, its 13!! had to be done!

take care

Si (lp)

The Baron said...

No worries Si. Hope to see you (and your puppies...actually that sounds a bit wrong doesn't it?) soon.

Frankie Ward said...

Hi! Just stumbled across this! Thanks very much for your lovely words. My sax player has gone to Russia and my drummer to Uni and my keyboard player disappeared so we'll prob be a four piece in the future. We'll be at the tourist info centre for arts fest sunday at 2.30, thanks again x