Sunday, 28 March 2010

The School and Allo Darlin - Bush Hall

I was possibly a bit negative in my earlier review of The Loves Rocknroll Circus, they are one of my most favourite bands in the world, ever since a solemn oath I made to one of their original members in '97.

I mentioned that they keep swallowing members of other bands, Pocketbooks and Arthur and Martha, but on the other hand they also spin out bands too, such as tonight's headline act The School.

Who do I like better The School or The Loves? Its hard to say. Five years ago it would be teh luvs, but now, I'm not so sure.

Tonight the venue is Indiepop Central tonight, if I were more reckless I'd do a London Indiepop Eyespy blogpost, to my right is Camila from the WeePop record label, over to my left is Iain HDIF, and away behind is the mighty Hibbett, I think I even saw the cute one from Little My. I wish I'd had a shower this morning.

The lights dim a little, a lone chap takes to the stage, with guitar strapped on he approaches a MacBook, clicks a few things and tentatively throws himself into his set. He is Pagan Wanderer Lu.

Its noisy clanking stuff, with squelches, squeak, beeps and grinds. Drums and backing vox too. This is a guy who sure knows how to use GarageBands.

Some mighty deep songs, in the context of the universe what about the Mona Lisa, and some mighty shallow stuff about going to PizzaExpress. Imagine MJ Hibbett crossed with Denim and you'd be in the right brane.

Some touching moments, the new sound his guitar makes when he plays it wearing a wedding ring and how one of his pieces of kit broke on the way to the show so he explains he's playing lessy gadgety and more guitary than usual. Is this what Robbie IoMoPS would be like, thrust on stage on his own?

Suddenly, tonight feels like a 1995 Flyer gig without Zee. The lighting is red, familiar bands are on stage, (Facebook) friends all around and I'm crouched in a corner, head down in a notebook/blackberry. Christ, what is wrong with me?

I think a made a poor call in the toilets, the urinal is wide enough for two and not quite three gents, I chose wrong.

Second up are local favourites Allo Darling. Earlier today my niece visited a petting zoo and met some ducklings and some baby chickens, quite rationally called chicklings. So, clearly a baby star is a starling, and what do you call a baby Dalek? Darlin'.

They've been on tour with The School and are clearly loving it. Elizabeth Darling starts the set solo, just her, her ukulele and a tiny tiney ukulele capo. But soon joined by the rest of the band.

No Stephen Hawking, no You Shook Me All Night Long, no Henry Rollins Don't Dance. These are all classic songs from their repertoire, how long has it been since I last saw them, how many albums away have I drifted past. There must be a rational reason why they're not in the set?

The new temporary bass player was on fire, strutting his stuff, and everything. The usual guy is off on paternity leave. When he comes back they're gonna have to have some kind of bass-off, there can be only one.

Monster Bobby comes on for their duet, its seems more polished than last time I saw them, almost growing on me, he's got a little of the Divine Comedy about his voice here, but there's doesn't seem to be much chemistry between Bobby and Elizabeth.

Headlining tonight are The School, its not quite the final night of their tour, but its a big one. There's eight of them in the band now, Liz teh singer reckons is the final line up, but I still miss Spud on glockenspiel, although Guido playing tonight is pretty good. They have two violinists which ought to give for a richer sound than usual. Occasionally when I've seen them live before, they've been a little flat compared to the what I'd spent the day listening to on my iPod, but tonight they've hit the mark.

There's happy banter on stage, and joshing between band members. I sink into a happy place, its all glittery, sparkly and sweet. Some would say sickly sweet, but you get used to that.

The mixing is good and with more people on stage for backing vocal duties they're getting closer to the motown girl-group sound that always been just there under the surface.

Aw man, I've been writing this for hours and hours now, from scratching away at my 'berry at the gig, to lying in bed tapping away, and then the next day, still picking my nose trying to spool out enough text to fit the photies round.

And well, I can't do it, sure if I'd bought the album I could be having more of a listen and give the textures and subject matter a more thorough going-over, but I'm skint, and I'm not going to be buying any music if there's gigs to go to instead. Its a bit of a trade off.

Ah well, the show was good, getting home was a pain though, the underground stopped before I'd got all the way, so I emerged into the middle of nowhere in Harlesden, so there was much trudging and trying to fine stops serviced by night buses. Thank god I didn't go to the Come Out 2Nite night, or it would be daylight when I got home.

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