Another late call down to Bristol; this time Rachel got a flyer through the post this morning, so we both decided that rock and roll was a certain antidote to the "first week back at work" blues!
So, we hit the Fleece at 8.30, which was much more sparsely attended than the recent Haven gig, and had a wait until the first band, on at 9.15. They were an intriguing idea - a 3 piece of acoustic guitar/vocals, double bass and bongos - however they were dull dull dull; a poor man's (no, let's make that a destitute man's) Grant Lee Buffalo, with a plodding moodiness reminiscent of Pedro The Lion, and a really irritating vocalist (the voice, that is, not him!).
So we headed to the back of the by-now filling venue, standing near to the guys from the Electric Soft Parade, checking out the support. We were thus witness to a lovely moment, when a girl went up to the band, they thought she wanted an autograph or something, but she just wanted them to get out of the way so she could go to the toilet! Ha!
By now the place was quite full and Rach was feeling a little tired, so we held a watching brief at the back by the mixing desk for the Electric Soft Parade (who will inevitably hereafter be referred to as ESP!). Now, not having listened to their debut album, I only had the deliciously melodic "Silent To The Dark" single to go by, and was therefore expecting a mellow, strumalong set of sub-Teenage Fanclub tunefulness.
Got that a bit wrong then! Tunes and melodic catchiness were certainly abundantly in evidence in this set, but mellow? The opener rocked along with a chunky riffery which recalled certain Bostonian bands, and "There's A Silence", dispensed with early on, had the strident power of a Glitterbox. Thence followed a varied and inventive set of always-tuneful powerpop, with an occasional keyboard sheen adding colour and life. Descending basslines and pace changes added to the excellent listening experience, and only an ill-advised (and straight!) cover of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" struck a jarring note. Even their reconstructed Krautrock rendition of "Silent To The Dark", which stretched for ages, was absorbing and memorable. So overall, ESP - a real surprise. An excellent and inventive "live" experience and a name to watch - closely!