Sorry to use shock tactics to get your attention! It’s not a lie – but it does require a long winded story [disguised as a review!]
Last night I popped over to Digbeth’s Rainbow for a night of sober fundraising recklessness. The University of Birmingham’s Oxfam Outreach society were holding their annual Rainbox charity event (I believe this may be a national thing – although I’m afraid I’ve not researched properly – I’m on a bit of a tight schedule atm.) £3 on the door, cakes for a donation. Bands. Brilliant!
First up on the bill was gifted singer Bethan Court, who used to sing for a band called The Harbour Lights who have unfortunately now disbanded. This may, however, be a plus for Bethan as it will give her a chance to experiment with younger, edgier material. Last night she performed a range of covers including Emmy The Great’s First Love and Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees. There is a fabulous ethereal quality to Bethan’s voice – it’s depth of tone lulls one into a sense of security which didn’t quite fit with the latter two songs, particularly when performed in such a musically sound way . I would love to see her perform material that she herself has written or has been written for her so that she can explore the content of the songs truthfully. That, in time, will guarantee a more affecting performance. I hope that she finds a band to work with soon, because I really want to see her perform again.
Next up, the Miles Bradley fronted LookiMakeMusic who haven’t had a great deal of gigging experience as a group. This wasn’t, however, an issue to themselves or the audience. Miles is a witty orator rather than virtuoso singer lamenting love, breakups and Supersonic Vague/Snobs in a self effacing way. Like a less enthusiastic Eddie Argos I suppose! He’s got a very good sense of rhythm, particularly when reciting very very fast passages of lyrics – almost like a MC crossed with a slam poet. Musically the band allow themselves to vary their accompaniment between sparse and robust – the robust, collective sound being particularly effective (as one would expect.) One moment where all members sang in enthusiastic harmony was particularly impressive. More please lady and gents! One thing that did stick out was the occasional use of violin by muli-instrumentalist Caitlin Price. To me I didn’t always feel that the timbre of the violin quite fit with the rest of the music, particularly at the end of a couple of songs where it was played for a couple of phrases longer than the other instruments. This was not due to Caitlin’s abilities – she is a very capable, impressive musician. It was purely a concept that didn’t quite gel for me. The synth, however, went down a treat!
Third to take to the stage were Young Runaways, an event looked forward to by many of the event attendees. The Wolverhampton wonders burst into their set and never lost a drop of energy throughout. They produced a set of well crafted, musically interesting pop songs, with a wealth of experience clearly on their side – it’s not hard to tell why they’ve been played on Tom Robinson’s BBC6 Music introducing show… Theirs is music of the heart swelling kind – that is to say, you can stand (perhaps sway a little) and watch respectfully, or you can jig to the music joyfully – the resulting rapture is still the same. Gorgeous.
The penultimate act of the night was SDF. I can honestly say that I have no idea who they are and still don’t (as I was in the bar during their set… whoops!) Although my housemate DP reviewed them as ‘confusing.’ Basically he had no idea if they were ‘trying to be ironic as they stood in a line and danced campily.’ However DP admitted that he rather warmed to the band and others I spoke to from the audience ruddy appreciated them. If you like your electro, check them out.
The act that the audience had unanimously braying for all night was uni musicians The July Days. I’ve been a fan (and, hopefully) a friend of the band for a while so haven’t written too much on them so as to remain unbiased, however after last night I really felt that seeing them for a measly £3 donation (they have the potential to command a lot more) meant that they deserved a little more of my time (and words – if they have the potential to be worth anything.) The band always kick off with singer Reece Lipman’s introduction; ‘This song is called I Said, You Said and it goes like this.’ – which is fast becoming a bit of a trademark! The band had a generous 45 minutes onstage (which rushed by as furiously as ‘badger haired flemmy skeleton’ Sam Lewis’s mighty drumbeats.’ We were treated to classics such as ‘Babe Ruth’ and ‘Hollywood’s Future’ as well as similarly older, less played songs such as ‘Broken Lyrics’ plus newer material such as ‘Empire State’ and ‘Quirky Isn’t Working.’
I think it was halfway through ‘Babe Ruth’ when I looked over at Sam Cowley (Sir Digby himself) and realised that we both knew the words so well that we should audition to be backing singers/dancers (I have choreographed a rather fetching dance, you see.) Unfortunately, from the looks of the rest of the crowd, we’d probably have a lot of competition!
For the grand ‘Quirky Isn’t Working’ finale myself and Ms Helen ‘Shaniqua’ Shepherd (one of burnfm‘s newest DJs) took to a rather wobbly picnic table and gave it some ‘Kevin Lyttle‘ dancing. When the audience demanded an encore (and the band repeated ‘Babe Ruth’) we were joined by more jubilant dancers. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where I nearly died. The table bounced up, down, forwards, and backwards, but myself and Shep did not mind. When I did get a little scared however, we hopped off and headed to the stage in preparation for invasion…. just as the song ended. Rats!
Get Frank are playing an acoustic at the Bristol pear this Saturday so I hope some of you can join us. It’s a mere minimum £1.50 donation for entry (proceeds to the DEC Haiti earthquake appeal I believe.) Rainbox raised (at last count) a massive £700 for the Oxfam earthquake appeal so I hope we can raise a sum too!
The July days also sold a special acoustic EP for charity yesterday (an amazing £1) yesterday. Here’s mine:
Aren’t you the jealous ones?
Right I’m off to rehearsals.
To those of you reading on Facebook, this post, like most of my ‘notes’ originated from http://www.getfrank.co.uk, just so you know!