A local one, this, and another of those rather splendid “Songs Of Praise” promoted evenings that I really, rather shamefully, never get to enough of... I could cite lack of cash and energy, Rachel’s swimming nights necessitating me minding the kids, nights in doing Netflix’n’chill (actually that – “Jessica Jones” was a recent binge-watch favourite, and I’m also loving “Daredevil”), and using up my “going out” tokens on gigs further afield; the truth however is I’m an inexcusable slacker and I really don’t take sufficient advantage of the fruits on my own doorstep. However, there was no missing this one, a return to the “live” boards for local favourites White Lilac, their first since releasing a rather splendid 5-song EP in “Unwelcome Wishes”, which attempts to distil and encapsulate the widescreen breadth and scope of their entire musical vision. And fails. I mean, seriously, they’re musically soooooo diverse, it probably needs a 20-song CD to fit all of that in...!
Accompanying White Lilac for this event were a couple of intriguing sounding bands of similar musical hue, so I resolved to get there early, picking Dean up just after 8 and wandering up the hill and in after parking in our usual (and freshly painted!) spot. Various chats with various folks (promoters Dave and Ed, White Lilac vocalist Faye’s ever-present parents Stella and Mike) ensued before we popped in for openers Neverlnd at 9. Formerly Balloon Ascents, and championed by Ed in particular, they initially evoked the likes of Talk Talk and Duran Duran with some New Romantic style leanings, before veering into 80’s jazz café AOR/ funk, an odd direction for such a young band. The fluffy haired singer had an angular stage presence and an intriguing voice, and overall there were enough odd nuances to their sound to rescue them from bland plodding boredom. Their best number “My Heart Away” channelled 80’s funkers Hipsway (!) and overall I felt as if I should be watching their set whilst sipping daiquiri from a coconut shell on a beach in my ra-ra skirt...!
Enjoyed some nice socialising, including a chat with the White Lilac peeps, including compliments about their new EP and a discussion with guitarist Curtis on the merits of 60’s band Love (surely he’s not old enough to know them!), and also some muso chat with Faye’s brother, before Wasuremono, next up. 2 blokes, 2 girls, and a huge synth onstage set-up with masses of spaghetti liberally strewn around the floor, they played a nice set of eerie, mainly slow-burn dream pop, incorporating more atmospheric shoegazey elements, and in singer William Southward, they had a voice which flip-flopped octaves between smooth and low, to Jeff Buckleyesque falsetto (as soon as the sound was sorted so we could actually hear him!). “A Sigh Is Like The Sea” had a moody, reverb-heavy post-punk vibe evoking misty moonlit beaches, and an untitled mid-set new number (which William referred to as, “our disco song!”) featured an early Cure-like stripped bare rhythm coupled with some intriguing, almost soulful vocal gymnastics (a late-arriving Beef remarked, “like Marvin Gaye singing “A Forest”!”) “Boogeyman” was a Buckleyesque elegy, before a stomping finale of “Shhhh” featured some shimmering drumbeats, closing out a quietly impressive set from a promising band.
“We’ll just shift the Starship Enterprise and get White Lilac on as soon as possible!” remarked Ed, but a fiddly guitar soundcheck resulted in White Lilac not taking the stage until 11 pm. Maybe due to the lateness of the hour, or maybe due to some volumes of gin (allegedly) imbibed pre-show, they were up for making some noise tonight, and kicked up a glorious racket from the off. “Change Of Face” was a joyful, foot-stomping mess featuring some piercing banshee howls and yelps from Faye, setting the tone for the set. “Gone In A Day”’s slow-burn, discordant one-note opening melded into a militaristic drumbeat-propelled noise-fest crescendo, the band collapsing into giggles at the end (yup, maybe the gin then...!). A truncated “Night Visions”, next up, was the best and clearest sounding number of the set, particularly the frantic strumalong finale, and a subsequent newie, “I Don’t Believe” was a pulverising Sioux-alike wall of sound with a nonetheless soaring hooky chorus. The EP’s finest moment, “I’m All Colours”, received a stripped back arrangement tonight, rather than the, “57 instruments on the EP!”, but still retained its’ lovely harmonic 60’s vibe, and finale “Swallow” was all seething loud-quiet-loud, an epic sweeping journey over shimmering ragged guitar. Breathless and splendid stuff!
This bumped us up to ¼ to 12, so after compliments and farewells, I took my leave. Another great “Songs Of Praise” night – another promising lot in Wasuremono, and as for White Lilac; tonight they eschewed their more delicate side in favour of a big stompy punk rock set, and it was actually all the better for it!