Saturday, August 07, 2010

Goodnight Lenin / Boat To Row / The Young Runaways / Jodi Anne Bickley @ The Hare and Hounds, Friday 6th August 2010

Oooooh a single launch. Double oooooh Goodnight Lenin’s single launch. Cue fireworks, dancing girls, a troupe of performing horses and that bloke off the telly who presents that programme that slams D-list celebrities through a wall. Anton du somebody or other. I can think of quite a few celebrities that I’d like to slam through a wall (real though, not polystyrene), but let’s save that for another day eh?

First up The Young Runaways, tonight reduced to a two piece (I think there’s normally a million of ‘em or something). It had taken them a bum numbing 2 hours and 10 minutes to travel the few miles from Wolverhampton (their hometown) to Birmingham, so I’m not surprised the rest of the band were absent...probably reduced to eating each other on the Wolverhampton Road just to survive. The two that made it though (a fiddle player and singer/guitarist) got the evening off to a fine start. Reminded me a bit of The Wonderstuff in places, a thought confirmed when they covered The Stuffies ‘Here Comes Everyone’. They’ve got some fine tracks of their own though, particularly the catchy fiddle driven indie folk of ‘The Boy and the Beartrap’, which you can happily jig around to on their MySpage page.

One thing which did annoy me tonight - and it never ceases to be a thorn on the side of any who gives a shit about music - was the inane chattering of some of the audience. If you are one of those people for the love of Lady Gaga please just shut up. Think about it. These performers have spent days, weeks, months writing and rehearsing their material...they’ve humped themselves and their equipment to the gig, they’ve eaten half their band on the Wolverhampton Road, they’ve nervously waited around backstage for their moment...and then you spend the entire set polluting the atmosphere with your inane drivel. It’s simple. If you want to talk, go outside or...and I realise this is quite a challenge for some people...just wait until the set has finished. I’m sure you can hold in whatever verbal gem is ready to spring forth for 20 minutes or so. Okay? Thanks.

Anyway, back to someone who thankfully has got something worthwhile to say, is our very own Jodi Anne Bickley. Continuing her quest to big up the burgeoning Birmingham spoken word scene (seriously you should check it out) tonight she gave us a trio of her best rhymes including ‘Hold Tight’ and ‘You Make Me Lose My Cool’. As I’ve said before there’s just something so refreshingly honest about Jodi and her material and, for the third time in as many weeks, I found myself hanging on her every word. A truly special talent and equally importantly in my book, a lovely, genuine person too.

Next up Boat To Row bobbed along with some rather nice lullaby-tastic tunes. There were some scrummily delicious boy/girl harmonies on offer here from Hannah and Michael but they can also kick up a bit of a storm when they want to. Well worth catching live if you get the chance.

Finally, it’s Goodnight Lenin. Liam, Sam, Matt, John and John Joe. It’s their party and they’re clearly here to have a good time tonight. And why the hell not eh? They’ve come a long way in a relatively short time (they formed in late 2009) and tonight’s bar raising set saw them take another step forward with some new tunes, a surprise guest appearance from someone called April (who played flute and added vocals to one of the tracks) and a slightly more serious approach to their performance. There was still plenty of banter though, mainly aimed at people who were clapping out of time (one of the culprits was later identified as John’s sister...oh the shame). For the hardcore fans all the classic Lenin tracks were in place (‘Ragged Schools’, ‘Wenceslas Square’ and, of course, the new single ‘Crook in the Creek’), but newer tracks have started to sound stronger too. ‘Mannequins’, ‘After All’ and ‘Old Cold Hands’ were noticeably more polished than before. I’ll need to hear the even newer stuff a few more times (I think at least one song was still being worked on just before tonight’s show...a measure of the creativity spurting out of them right now), but I’m happy to report that all of the elements that made them so good so fast (the Dylan, Young and Simon influences and those three part harmonies) are still well and truly in place.

If I was being hyper critical (and at this stage in their development I guess that’s increasingly important now) I’d make the harmonies a little tighter in places and perhaps give Matt a few more vocal opportunities (he adds a rich, deep voice to the end of Crook in the Creek). I’d quite like to hear John Joe lead a track too. Musically I loved the introduction of the flute and I’m wondering if the band plays any other instruments that could perhaps add to the richness of the songs (a bit of brass here and there maybe). These though are minor points. What came across again tonight, as the sweat dripped from the walls and the claps (out of time or not) built and built, is that this band’s on fire right now. Once again Goodnight Lenin score top Marx.

PS: The single is out now on Static Caravan's limited to 500 copies so if you want one I reckon you have about half an hour left to grab a are you waiting for?

Goodnight Lenin - Crook In The Creek from Prime Objective on Vimeo.

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