I’m a sucker for an album launch. The spectacular venue, the canapes, the free-flowing wine, the celebrities, the record company executives, the giveaways and the well-known artistes who have spent the last few months in a state of the art studio.
Of course, in the local music scene that I frequent, the venues are a lot smaller and darker, the alcohol and canapes are bitter or lager and crisps bought from the bar, where you can also pick up the freebies (flyers for upcoming gigs and The Fly magazine). There may be celebrities in the audience but they are likely to be members of other local bands and the chance of any executives being there are slim (the older gentlemen wandering around in shirt and tie are probably relatives of the band…) The artistes themselves are probably still well-known (throughout the audience, anyway) and have almost certainly put a lot of work into their album, albeit probably not in a state of the art studio.
Still, an album launch by any other name… and it’s for that very reason that I braved the Wintery weather to meet Andy at Fibbers tonight.
Unfortunately, the weather made my bus late and I missed the first act, Tom Welbrock. A solo keyboard player. I got a text from Andy saying, “Some kid playing Bach and rag all by himself.” Andy seemed to have enjoyed the performance, but I obviously can’t comment.
Continuing the weather theme, it turned out that the next band, Surprise Fire had been snowed in. They had been replaced by Swimwear Juniors. A four-piece consisting mainly of two guitars, bass and drum, they played a set of bright, lively pop. Not the generic three-minute variety but more complex, longer songs. The only thing that sprung to mind as a sound-alike was the result of the The Jam changing musical direction. The music was superb, the lyrics clear and the band obviously had some fans in the audience as Fibbers was turned into a bit of a mosh-pit. This was an extremely entertaining and very assured performance. There was something about the look of lead-singer Oliver that reminded me of performers from the sixties – his haircut, the way he wore his guitar and the slight lean down toward the microphone… All he needed was a suit and tie and he could have stepped out of The Beatles. We chatted to Oliver after their set (I didn’t mention the resemblance) and found out that Swimwear Juniors had actually split up in July last year, as they all went off to university. Not having had a chance to properly say goodbye to their songs, they were glad to have been asked to perform tonight. The boys have now formed a new band, Trophy Club, and Oliver says that their old music has been replaced by a more mature sound. While I’ll certainly give them a try if I get the chance, I hope they retain some semblance of their old sound.
Next up were The Littlemores, a three-piece of guitar, bass and drum, joined for about half their set by Ben the trumpet-player. There was quite a mixture of styles in their performance – the trumpet added a hint of ska, there was at least one piece of something very like jazz, among others – and it was a bit of shame that the band didn’t seem to have a style of their own. That’s not to take anything away from the music – it was another enjoyable set, although both Andy and myself preferred the songs which featured the trumpet. Again, worth checking out if they are playing near you. Their next advertised gig is part of The Battle of the Bands on the 23rd of February.
Finally, the band we were there to see (and buy the album). Roj and I had previously seen Lost From Atlas as a support band late last year. Their highly individual sound had grabbed up immediately and we were both keen to go to the album launch in November. Sadly, that date was delayed and Roj was unable to make it tonight. So impressed was he, though, that he asked me to pick up a copy for him anyway. Thankfully, nothing went wrong this time as this weekend was the last that the band were in York before going their separate ways to university (but not splitting up). Anyway, tonight’s set was pretty much the same as the last time we saw them – a fully instrumental set that could have contained one long song or could have been a number of tracks with no breaks. The intricate changes in music, along with the variety of playing styles employed by guitarist Danny Gallagher still remind me of a new style of keyboard-less prog rock, but Roj described their style as math rock. Who am I to argue?? The band certainly give it their all, with Danny alternating between standing almost still and cavorting around the stage as though he was on hot coals. Liam Ledgeway drums as though his life depends on it and bass-player Orlando Lloyd, while pretty much the quiet man of the band, still produces some excellent bass-lines. I can’t remember whether there was anything different between this set and the last time saw them, but both were excellent and both over way too soon.
Danny also seemed to be continuing the lack of vocals idea of the set (perhaps a bit too far) by advertising the album on his chest. Although he did speak towards the end of the set to tell us where we could get the CD from, which helped as I had previously wandered around Fibbers unsuccessfully looking for somebody selling it. If time permits, I’ll try to put a review together when I have had a chance to listen to it properly.
I may have only seen three out of the four bands on offer tonight, but rarely can four English pounds have been so well spent.