Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Strange Death of Liberal England.

I've been hearing whispers about this Portsmouth-based band for some time now and most of them have been as intriguing as they have been favourable. This could however cut both ways; I was thus glad to have the opportunity to check them out live on the Uncut stage at Latitude where they were playing the opening gig at lunch time on Sunday.

It was timely as their first eight-track mini-album Forward March! had been released the previous Monday on Fantastic Plastic Records, which ensured a sizable and enthusiastic turn out.

It was quite clear, even before the set started, that they have a loyal following and it was soon very clear to me why that is. In a set that could only last 40 minutes, why waste time talking? They didn't say a word, other than the sung lyrics, introducing themselves and the songs using hand-written and hand-held placards.

It was very effective and reminded me rather of the occasional frames, conveying plot details, that appeared flickeringly in the days of silent movies. What is more, if you look carefully at the these pictures, you will notice that this is a band very flexible when it comes to who plays which instrument on any particular song.

It all suits their ambitions and circumstances well, I have to say.

This may well be quite deliberate because as the band's name suggests (it is taken from a book of the same title and I'll let you find it and what it was about) they quite wilfully hark back to earlier days in their lyrical content but without any discernible influence from traditional music. The real issue is that they do it incredibly well and had they gone on for two hours longer I'd have happily missed whatever other acts I had planned to go and see!

In some ways, while less obviously obsessed with historical narrative, they reminded me of iLiKETRAiNS and that is another band I very much want to see live.

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