Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hjaltalin / Mr Bones & The Dreamers / 51 Breaks / This Beautiful Thief @ The Rainbow, Friday 24th July 2009

Swine flu. Rain. Unemployment. More rain. 2009’s shaping up to be a corker isn’t it? It strikes me that what we all need is a jolly good night of anthemic indie pop/rock (either that or a cut price Tamiflu cocktail served in a pair of wellies)…which is just as well as tonight The Rainbow hosted a 444 club extravaganza of musical delight. Nay, a cornucopia of orchestral majesty. Yes…a cornucopia. What? Too much? Oh alright then…

First up, This Beautiful Thief. Nope, not a tribute to Fred Goodwin (how is that man still alive?) but instead a highly accomplished band who I’ve enjoyed a couple of times before at The Rainbow. There’s much to like about the Thief. Anthemic (I’m going to be using that word a lot today), melodic indie rocksters with a Maximo Park-ish twang to the vocals (that’ll be the Geordie vocalist there) and a nice line in hook laden tunes. Opening track Falling Down (in my humble opinion their best number s far) in particular stood out, ‘I am faded, I am jaded with age’ rung a particular bell with me…but that’s probably because I’m 147.

Onwards to 51 Breaks, the only band that were ‘new’ to me tonight. A strong vocal performance from the lead Break and the drummer (yes…the drummer) combined with synth strings to make this an uplifting indie rock set with plenty of ooomph. Unusually for me (being a bit of a synth boy) I yearned for real strings in places, especially knowing that the next two bands featured them, but I guess it ain’t easy recruiting a violinist for a rock band. However I can just imagine this lot up on a big stage with a trio of fiddle playing lovelies…as I’m sure the band can too. Hopefully they’ll have the chance as they’re down to the last 6 bands (out of 4000!) on the Road to V thingy. Have a listen then hop over to the Road to V site and vote for ‘em.

Next up Mr Bones and The Dreamers. With a quivery vocal (think a happier Roy Orbison), lead Bone Keiren sings like his very life depends upon delivering his songs to the masses. I’ve seen Mr B and the D a few times before and this was their best showing so far. The violin (not sure whether that’s always featured quite so much) just lifts the whole thing to a different level. Oh deep joy. There’s a whole world of instruments out there aside from keyboards, guitars and drums. Use ‘em people! This band are special and deserve oodles more attention than they seem to be receiving. As a fan of The Decemberists (who’s tracks were playing in between sets) I’d put Mr B and the D in the same league, a clever, deep musical world with plenty to explore and in the case of Mr B and the D a surprisingly toe tapping heart (even if some of the songs appear to be about graves, death, doomed love, more death and a little death).

Finally, orchestral Icelandic pop anyone? Have I got the band for you. Hjaltalin! Nope I’m afraid I have no idea how to pronounce it either. Yaltalin? Hughjallatin? Youtellin? Answers on a postcard please because I’d like to spread the word about this lot. I caught some of their set at The Great Escape in Brighton, it wasn’t the best of conditions for them (or me...I was a little moist as the venue…the upstairs of a pub…was rammed and it was a warm day too….urggh). Tonight though the more open environment of The Rainbow courtyard gave the music room to breathe. Great chunks of orchestral magic dusted with soulful vocals (the lead vocalist almost hit Curtis Mayfield territory in places) and a side order of Scandinavian cool. There’s a touch of Coco Rosie to the female vocals, and some Cardigans in there too. Traffic Music in particular reminds me a little of the Cardigans ace early single ‘Sick and Tired’. There aren’t many bands that feature a bassoonist and, as with Mr B and the D, having 7 people in the group creates a sort of musical richness that’s often sadly lacking. What better way to cast off the cares and woes of life after a hard week watching ‘Deal or No Deal’ eh? If I was cheesy I’d end this review…‘now that’s why mum really went to Iceland’…yes, you’re right, I am that predictable.


therank said...

Hey Baron!

Im the guitarist from 51 Breaks and I spotted this while trawling through google!

Thanks for the review and I hope you enjoyed your first time - even though a lot of those backing vocals were MINE too!

Rather than our MySpace, our Facebook is now the place to follow us. Ive decided to share your review (and hence this blog) with all our FB fans.

Once again thanks!

51 Breaks

The Baron said...

Hello Tom,

Thanks for dropping by. Respect due for the backing vocals, I'm easily confused! Good luck with the Road to V stuff, you deserve to be up there (with a bunch of fiddle playing lovelies naturally).

All the best.

The Baron