Hope and Social – Fibbers, 06/06/08

…and my first musical night out for nearly a month sees us on a visit to Fibbers to see a well-liked band and encounter some new pleasures.

First up was Dan Torres (or on MySpace). Dan is an indie/alt rock (these days, who isn’t?) singer/songwriter from New York and was appearing with percussionist Ryan Vaughn, also from New York, who sat on and played what seemed to be a plywood box (along with a single cymbal and an array of other instruments laid out in front of him). His semi-manic style was a complete contrast to Dan’s easy-going one and the latter treated us to an excellent acoustic set. With a voice which was vaguely reminiscent of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, a good rapport with an admittedly small audience and some terrific vocals during a selection of songs just different from each other to be interesting, this was a very good start to the evening.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, we actually turned up halfway through this set. However, what we did see impressed me enough to spend money on Dan’s 2006 album, Where I Stand. So far, I’ve only had a chance to listen to it once (and not very closely) but it is very different from his live act, being recorded with a full band – Dan tells me that coming across from New York wasn’t easy with just one extra musician… Hopefully, I will post a full review soon.

Tonight’s second act was The Hair, from York. This four-piece played their instruments hard and surprisingly well for such a young band. If I had one criticism it would be that they really need a lyricist. While the vocals were good and the songs catchy, the lyrics were a tad too repetitive for me – along the lines of too little verse and too much chorus. The band had an excellent stage-presence, however, and seemed to enjoy their set, not looking the least bit nervous. Extra points were gained by lead-singer Sam Robson’s embarrassing-under-any-other-circumstances Dad-dancing and the use of a skateboard as a shelf above Neil Clark’s keyboards.

To say that The Hair were my least favourite act of the night just shows the quality of the other two. I even contemplated a second trip to the merchandise desk until I found out that the CD on sale was just a single.

Finally, the band we had paid our money to see, sort of…

Four Day Hombre have changed their name to Hope&Social, to mark the release of some new material. Being honest, I don’t see the point but, then, I’m not part of the band and I don’t have a lot of history with them. Part of the reason they give is that their music has a new feel and a new way of playing. Being honest, I was surprised the first time I saw them that they sounded so different live to how they sounded recorded and, from this gig, the new stuff didn’t seem too much different to the old stuff. There wasn’t much of a new look, either, with Simon Wainwright wearing the same style of cowboy shirt and Rich Huxley wearing, I think, the same shirt as the last time I saw them.

They are still a very polished band who, on the basis of the two gigs I have seen, deserve to be playing bigger and better venues than Fibbers. (With an upcoming gig at York’s soon to be opened Duchess, the bigger will definitely be covered. Better is looking good but remains to be proved.) They obviously enjoy playing together, peppering their set with a good dose of humour both between themselves and as banter with the audience (this time culminating with somebody, who shall remain nameless, shouting abuse at Simon after he dissed Leeds United). I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at a gig as I have done the two times I have seen this lot.

Tonight the music was little short of brilliant, with special mention to Heaven Falls and Daylight Came, two tracks from the new EP which sounded absolutely stunning live.

To sum up, tonight was an absolutely top-class evening, much better than recent visits to Fibbers and head-and-shoulders above the array of cover bands that we have seen recently.

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About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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