So, shorts and kneestrap bolted on, I drove up and hit the venue at 8.30, catching up with the 2 Richs and availing myself of some vintage tuneage (Close Lobsters! Pastels!) courtesy of Mr. Craven. Mr. May then gathered his troupe together and took the stage on this “Songs Of Praise” promoted evening at 9, easing into jangly opener “At The Rivers Edge”, before second number “Your Spell” was introduced as, “a song about being seduced by an other-worldly being in the local disco – true story!”. This one really impressed, despite being slightly at odds with TKIM’s usual material, being darker, edgier and with an early 80’s pseudo-Goth guitar feel redolent of Scars or Modern English. Good one!
“He’s good, isn’t he? He’s been practising!” remarked Mrs. May to The Very Most’s vocalist Jeremy, standing stage front next to me. Indeed, practice seemed to have made perfect with this impressive set from The King In Mirrors; “Your Spell” aside, this was a set of punchy, upbeat C86-esque jangle with nicely layered guitars and Rich’s slightly atonal vocals recalling the likes of The Razorcuts. “Catwoman” had a more kitsch 60’s B movie feel about it, and “Good Friends” saw Mr. Craven emerge from behind the decks to duet with his old friend, a nice touch. Overall, Rich relaxed into his performance as it progressed, ultimately delivering a set tougher than TKIM’s elegant but slightly wispier CD material, full of optimism and promise. Nice work!
A quick chat outside with Dave Franklin and an elated Rich May, before next band Yakuri Cable – their name and Glaswegian origins may have suggested a shambolic but harmonic noise, but instead they were a drummer-less 4-piece sonically in thrall to 80’s synthpop. They were occasionally interesting with some jagged edges a la China Crisis or Blancmange, but all too often veered more towards jazz café wallpaper pop. Nice, pretty and melodic, maybe, but also unobtrusive and forgettable to these ears. Sorry guys.
After another quickfire turnaround (seemingly the modus operandi for these Songs Of Praise nights!), The Very Most hit the stage at 10.30. This was apparently a “manufactured” version of The Very Most, featuring bearded singer and mainman Jeremy over from Idaho, a couple of members of Yakuri Cable pulling double shifts, a drummer from Spain (!) and Vinnie, a voluble and chatty female backing vocalist. Apparently this iteration of the band had only been together for 6 days, but you’d not have noticed, as from the outset they delivered an upbeat, summery and fun set of bouncy, melodic indiepop, with some splendid male/female call and response harmonies and interplay. Mining the middle ground I never knew existed between C86 faves The Hit Parade and the excellent New Pornographers, there was also a real craftsmanship about the songs on display, an evident intelligence in making them sound so immediate and infectiously catchy. Second number “Patricia” was an early highlight, “When Summer Dies” an odd juxtaposition between the lyrical content and the song’s optimistic, upbeat feel, and I loved the story about Vinnie apparently being licked on the face by a Fall fan in Nottingham (!), before she delivered lead vocals on the bouncier penultimate “Things Too Obvious”. A final “Congratulations For Ever”, was a chugalong exclamation point on a fun, inclusive little jewel of a set. Vinnie had remarked, “It’s just indie pop, Jeremy!” in response to the singer’s uncharacteristically high string breakage rate this evening, but this was impressive, intelligently crafted and fun indie pop.
Grabbed both an armful of TVM CDs and a lengthy chat with affable vocalist Jeremy before saying my farewells and hitting the road, nearly collecting an unloading Vinnie as I drove down the side of the Vic. Still, at least it wasn’t another face-lick…! A late one but another fine “Songs Of Praise” evening out!