Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Team Me / Phil Gibbs Band @ The Rainbow, Tuesday 1st May 2012

It might have been an unseasonably cold and damp Tuesday evening...I say ‘might’, what I really mean is “Damn it! What’s with the freakin’’s May already...oy vey!!!”...but tonight did more to warm my cockles (stop sniggering at the back) than a bath in a boiling hot toddy.

First up Phil Gibbs and his band (featuring TemptingRosie’s tip top trumpeter Ewan Whyte!). Phil’s been busily building a name for himself over the past few months and opener Part Time Lover, a fine slice of funk driven white boy soul, exceeds all expectations. Most of Phil’s vids online are solo performances so it’s easy to see he can cut on his own but the addition of a really great band adds that magical ingredient. I’m a sucker for brass so Ewan’s trumpet solos were always going to be winner, but the bassist laid down some particularly sweet reggae grooves too. Niiiice. Playing half a dozen self penned tracks Phil’s in fine voice tonight (even if he does do that slightly annoying spl-iii-ttt-iiiii-nnnn-gggg up the words thing that seems to be quite trendy these days) spinning out some distinctly summertime sounds...and lord knows we all need some of them right now. An easy going and hugely enjoyable set.

The older you get the harder it is for music to really (and I mean really) hit you. Sure, you still love stuff, enjoy listening to new bands and catching up with the trillion tunes recorded so far but it’s rare to get that same buzz that you got when you first started to connect with music in your own sweet way. That’s what makes Team Me so special.

Hailing from Norway (a country with a surprisingly rich musical landscape) each song practically drips with joy. They’re mini anthems to love, life and everything in between, carefully crafted to make audiences throw their hands in the air and go three shades of mental. In fact, you know what? If God existed (let’s not get into that one today eh?) and made music I reckon it would sound like Team Me. Seriously. Musically there are shades of everything from the joyful singalongs and orchestral pop pomp of the Polyphonic Spree to the indietronica of MGMT and through to more leftfield acts like Conan Mockasin and Yeasayer, but such comparisons are dumb and lazy (yep, that’s me), on tonight’s showing I honestly believe Team Me are in a league of their own right now. Having carefully draped handmade bunting around a stage crammed full of kit (legend has it that they bought more kit to The Rainbow than any other band in history) the set exploded into life with Patrick Wolf and Daniel Johns, three of the most joyful sounding minutes in pop history and somehow got even better from there on. 

Wearing a rather fetching headband (are they back in?) lead singer Marius – who started the ‘band’ as a solo venture but then had to quickly recruit other ‘team’ members to play live – is a super cute ball of energy, frequently losing himself in the music like a man possessed (in a good way of head spinning and projectile vomiting tonight). Flanked by Uno (who uses the novel technique of playing his guitar with a violin bow) and Elida (drafted in to replace the recently departed Synne) they’re a ménage a pop with that rare ability to get people clapping along without it all feeling a little self conscious and forced.  

Plucking tracks from their essential debut album To The Treetops! (darn it, even the title’s as adorable as hell) the grins of the audience grew as wide as lake Mjøsa (that’s Norway’s biggest lake dontcha know...see, who says the internet’s not educational?) culminating in a mini freakout as fans danced their socks off at the front. Who can blame them? Stephen Hawking would find it hard to resist this lot. Saving the best for last the pairing of Show Me (as low key as Team Me get but still more joyful than a sack full of fluffy pink kittens) and the frankly life enhancing With My Hands Covering Both Of My Eyes I Am Too Scared To Have A Look At You Know surely convinced everyone there that they were watching something truly special. “Mediocre band, perform mediocre songs for us now” sang Marius climbing off the stage to sing amongst the converts. The ultimate in humility or throwing down the gauntlet to the rest of the pop world? Right now I’m too busy bouncing up and down to care...

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