No Rachel this time; she’d listened to the CD by this new young US indie band – one of Tim’s favourites of the year – and declared it "hippyshit!" I quite enjoyed it, in a Grandaddy meets 60’s psychedelic rock a la Mamas And Papas kind of way, so sorted a ticket and joined an enthusiastic Tim and Penny for this gig. Had a nightmare journey punctuated by road-works and traffic, and despite a 6 pm start only parked up at ULU, one of my old 80’s haunts, at ¼ to 9. D’oh!
This meant we missed first act Robert Gomez, but caught main support Fionn Regan, a big haired be-waistcoated troubadour whose dusky and occasionally spooky take on alt country pitched him somewhere between early Violent Femmes and Grant Lee Buffalo. Unsurprisingly, Tim loved him!
The sell-out gig got busy as we stood stage left for Midlake’s arrival at 10 to 10. Like Grandaddy, they were a bearded lot of keyboard-fuelled musicians, and played an easy on the ears set of languid pastoral countrified pop. They displayed less of the 60’s influences (except on well-received single "Roscoe", with its psychedelic harmony layers) and more the yearning, keyboard-embellished soundscapes of alt-indie Americana. Unfamiliar with their first album as I was (they drew heavily from it for this set), I was occasionally a bit lost, and easily distracted by the home-made videos projected onto the backdrop. But with the unfortunate demise of Grandaddy, there’s now room for someone to pick up their lazy hazy baton and run, well, stroll with it. That someone, on tonight’s evidence, may well be Midlake!
So, we left at 11, satisfied by a good gig. However, the traffic mare continued, with 3 sets of roadworks on the M4 meaning a 2 ¼ hour journey home. D’oh! London – you can’t get there from here!