Tuesday, 20 July 2010

426 ASTRID, Big Leaves, Oxford Fuggle And Firkin, Tuesday 2 November 1999

Got a hire car for this one; I'm off to Sussex tomorrow for a jolly, sorry, team event, so I thought I'd try it out with a quick jaunt down the A420 for this tantalising freebie! Rachel and I drove down in double-quick time, then faced a 35 minute (and increasingly frustrating) drive around the city centres' one way system trying to find a car park! Got one eventually, a little walk from the venue.

Got into the surprisingly quiet pub venue - c'mon Oxford, 2 promising bands in a free gig, and y'all can't be bothered? - and took position stage right for Big Leaves at 9, behind a pillar that obscured central view (but not ours). Big Leaves tonight cemented their burgeoning reputation as highly promising pop newcomers (initiated at Reading Festival) and certainly the best Welsh band right now (Manics? 'Phonics? Catatonia? P'fah!). A jolly fine cool, laid-back set of songs with a very 60's and quirkily English flavour (odd for a Welsh band!). A very understated performance style didn't detract from our enjoyment, as their proclivity to deliberately slow down a song for greater choral emphasis was again a highlight. Good show chaps!

Took a step closer to the stage for the arrival of Astrid, yet another band off the Scottish production line of painfully young pups with melodies and guitars in their hearts, and Big Star in their record collections. "Kitchen TV", the opener, had Rachel and I bopping immediately in the same way The Gigolo Aunts get us moving. There's no finer compliment!

A smashing little set ensued; great instant tunes and harmonies, oodles of fun and enthusiasm, fast and well rocking guitars. What more could a boy want? "It's True" was dedicated to the 2 whirling dervishes at the front (hmmm, sounds familiar...) and "High In The Morning", the excellent single, also soared by in a heady rush. A further highlight was the joyously singalong "Bottle", before a clutch of dynamic songs which resembled Velvet Crush, with their soaring Country rock lilt (amazingly, the boys had never heard of The Crush, when asked afterwards!). Another ridiculously catchy number, "Boy Or Girl", capped a splendid set, before a well-deserved encore of The Monkees' "A Little Bit Me, A little Bit You" revealed an obvious influence.

Had quick words with the band afterwards, who were surprised we'd travelled for the show (an obvious hazard if you live in Swindon!) but pleased we'd come along and bopped. Despite the car park-mare, so were we!

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