Bands are a bit like wine. Bear with me here. Some are best consumed fresh, right at the very start of their career, others just get better with age. And some...well some just make you want to vomit like that girl in The Exorcist but we’ll gloss over that for now. Field Music fit firmly in the second category with recent singles Noisy Days Are Over and Disappointed and new album Commontime coming across as a particularly strong vintage. A string of sold out tour dates backs this up and they’ve just announced a trio of big venue headline shows for October that seem set to do likewise.
First up tonight though, and carrying on the booze theme, it’s The Drink. Not sure what kind of drink, judging by the band’s ‘68 pysch meets C86 ‘dark folk’ it’s probably spiked with LSD though. Set highlight The Coming Rain has a bewitching Broadcast/Stereolab vibe to it, with a neat motoric groove to drive things along nicely. Well worth imbibing.
Onto Field Music then who kicked things off with a track, Noisy Days Are Over, that belies tonight’s impressively meaty beaty version. Keyboardist Liz in particular seemed intent on doing a little GKH (that’s Grievous Keyboard Harm) to her instrument. Now that’s how to start a gig.
A couple of tracks in David Brewis steps out from behind the drums and announces, slightly huskily, that’s he’s lost his voice. Awwww bless. When it comes to hitting the high notes on Disappointed that sounds like a recipe for...well...disappointment but, trooper that he is, somehow he manages to defy all medical science and remarkably pull off a bit of a blinder.
Throughout the set the influences come thick and fast, a little XTC here, a bit of early Genesis there, a healthy dose of Hall and Oates (especially on the new stuff), some Let’s Dance era Bowie, a little Zappa and just the merest hint of Pink Floyd. But like all great bands – and let’s make this clear, right now Field Music is a ruddy great band – they manage to whip all this up and somehow make it their own. They do a neat line in banter too, in fact throughout the night they covered everything from sounding like Kathleen Turner and the perils of playing drums in a cardie through to work place pension plans and, prompted by some of the audience who seemed to like shouting out “Haway the lads” and “Haddaway and shite” at frequent intervals, the genius or otherwise of Chris Rea.
Looking back at pre Liz era footage it’s clear that she adds a heck of a lot of oomph to the band’s live sound, musically and vocally, and if it’s been a while since you last saw ‘em, now’s definitely the time to get reacquainted. They all seem musically sharper though with early tracks like the art-prog of If Only The Moon Were Up given a sophistication and sheen that the original perhaps lacked.
Encore Give It Lose It Take It (“We’re only playing one song because it’s two songs in one...sort of!”), another oldie, is a suitably epic climax, from the opening Exorcist theme tune style motif right through to the proggier than thou second half, which once again saw brothers Peter and David make trading instruments seem absolutely effortless, even with a bit of man flu.
At their best Field Music is pop with a twist, clever enough to appeal to the musos but with the kind of hooky choruses and riffs that Kanye West would give his left...and quite possibly right...testicle for. And, with new album Commontime’s sophisticated 80s transatlantic soul pop leanings he may well be tempted to do just that. In fact in this particular Field right now frankly everything’s coming up roses.