Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Euros Childs / Laura J Martin / The Wellgreen @ The Hare and Hounds, Tuesday 29th October 2013

Given the frankly apocalyptic predictions for ‘St Jude’s Storm’ the previous day I was half expecting to find that the Hare and Hounds had been reduced to a pile of bricks or, at the very least, blown into a tree or something. Thankfully Michael Fish must’ve been on duty because yesterday’s gentle breeze was barely enough to trouble an empty crisp packet here in Brum. All of which meant that tonight’s openers The Wellgreen (all the way from Glasgow) were happily able to take to the stage with barely a hair out of place. 

Kicking off with Maybe It’s The Pressure of the City Life (well worth a listen) there’s a classic feel to many of their tracks with subtle hints of The Byrds, Beatles and Beach Boys in there and some great two part male harmonies. A ‘well good’ start to the night.

Whilst The Wellgreen’s performance was a relatively simple affair Laura J Martin shoehorned more into her all too brief set than most bands manage in an entire career. Although she’s a solo performer she’s got a neat bundle of kit that provides a backing track onto which she adds some live looped stuff, mandolin, flute, one of those keyboard things that you blow into, a plucky thing glued onto what looked like a tambourine...I half expected her to drag out a kitchen sink from the back of the stage at one point. In the hands of lesser artists this could all sound a bit of a dog’s dinner but she clearly knows what she’s doing, neatly juggling all of these different sounds to create something...well...pretty unique. Take Red Flag for instance which seemingly embraces everything from traditional British folk to Native American rhythms (replete with some particularly enthusiastic ‘war whoops’). 

Bonkers but brilliant. Vocally she’s the lovechild of Kate Bush and those CocoRosie sisters with a little added Scouse charm, a mix that’s as intoxicating as the music. Last track, Spy, saw her play one of the funkiest flute solos in history...seriously I’ve rarely seen someone really ‘rock’ a flute. Ian Anderson eat your heart out. Highly recommended.   

One day Euros Childs will be recognised as a national treasure. I’m pretty certain of it. For over twenty years (first as part of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci then as a solo artist) he’s consistently released clever, quirky, catchy indie pop and with his latest double album (yes, a DOUBLE album) Situation Comedy the well’s clearly not drying up. A bouncy run through one of his classics Be Be High gets things started off, it’s as catchy as hell but a little off the wall at the same time...which is a pretty good description of the man himself. That’s followed up by a trio from the newbie, Second Home Blues, Avon Lady and Ooh La Oona, each one of which are as lyrically delightful as they are musically. Avon Lady in particular’s a real treat, as fine a lesson in observational songwriting as you’re likely to find this side of Neil Hannon. Old Euros ain’t just a singer and songwriter though. Oh no. He also does a fine line in self deprecating stand up too (at times reminding me of a Welsh John Shuttleworth, that might just be me though), scattering the set with odd observations and random musings all delivered in that gloriously laid back and rich Welsh accent of his. A good natured heckler is handled particularly well in fact that the individual concerns returns with a pint for him a couple of minutes later. Now that’s real charm. No Patio Song, Donkey Island or Tête à Tête sadly but we did get the boogie woogie soul soothing That’s Better. 

To be frank though if Euros was going to play all his best songs we’d probably still be there now. Arderchogg!

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