Slow Club

For Summer Camp read: The Best New Band In Britain More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Summer Camp and Slow Club at The Cockpit, Leeds

A dozen and a half years ago in the wake of Melody Maker's declaration that they were "the best new band in Britain" - and armed with a demo tape of four tracks - Suede put in faltering performances not dissimilar to Summer Camp's final gig of their first ever tour.

An initial buzz and curious mystery Summer Camp have played a seven song support slot for the last week that - as with Suede's four tracks - vary between songs that have been stuck to one's turntable for the last three months and things that are new to the ears.

Ghost Train - the first release and first played - suffers fro a sound problem that plagues the night at Leeds' Cockpit venue with Elizabeth Sankey's vocal sounding as if it was amplified through a septic tank and Jeremy Warmsley's guitar and keyboard - as well as the second keyboard which put a lie to the idea that the band are a duo - lost under a thud of bass.

Nervously Sankey looked over an audience who struggled to be impressed but - chink by chink - a quality emerged and once the sound problems were if not solves, then a little sated, killer hooks and smart lyrics started to become clearer and Sankey's front woman persona look shape.

Wearing a kind of all in one and wiggling around the stage Sankey comes over as an amalgamation of big haired eighties pop British songstresses like Dana and something more modern and Transatlantic. She is Karen Over-here and she is good adding a sly smile to the smartness and a twee innocence. On best song Was It Worth It she croons "If we weren't at your parent's house/I'd probably cry" and it sounds honest.

One would never have accused Warmsley of honesty in her previous solo career. Twelve months ago when playing Leeds in support of Blue Roses a lyric from the nerd with guitar offered was "If you break her heart/I'll break your legs" which was patiently untrue as it looks as if the bespectacled singer/songwriter would struggle to break an egg. It lacked honesty, had no authenticity.

Which is not to say that Summer Camp are opening their hearts on stage but they are making something with a created core of truth. The songs are lazy sixties beach bingo tunes with girl group vocals and swooning cynicism that battles a smart flick through of music touchstones. They go gospel for an intro, Sankey bends head back on a never heard before tune Warmsley steps back and plays pseudo-metal licks.

The sound - indeed the band - are the creativity of a scrapbook. Nothing strikes one as massively new but everything is arranged in a unique way. Glued in and scribbled over, highlighted and starred and made into something new.

Perhaps then the between song banter - Sankey's referencing of Alan Partridge's Dan wins me over - and the half shambles of trying to sort out a van back to London while on stage is a part of that scrapbook creativity or maybe - as with Suede - the haphazardness is a band who have risen to prominence faster than they have been able to prepare but showing all the signs that they would make it.

For Summer Camp may have read "Best new band in Britain" and stuck that in the scrapbook too.

Slow Club follow and make an impressive entrance cutting through an augmented and enthusiastic audience as a pair playing acoustic guitars stopping at the front to play a first song in the front row. They storm to the stage but are beset with the sound problems that Summer Camp faced but the problem mire the two piece further to a point where the crowd are forced to hush to hear an electric guitar played without amplification.

"It's been shit tonight," says Rebecca Taylor in her gruff South Yorkshire tones "but you've been good" and the band deserve not a review of a gig that they would hope to forget so hard was it to get through a song without the ring of feedback but credit for battering on through it.

This post is about ,

What kind of funny are Brakes? More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, February 6th, 2009

Slow Club and Brakes The Fuzz Club at University Union, Sheffield

"The Killers also have a single out called Spaceman, but" says the silver suit clad short singer of Brakes Eamon Hamilton "erm, I like ours better."

Brakes are a funny band. The question is what sort of funny are they?

Certainly they are not the funny which Slow Club represent. The aspiring Sheffield based duo are a curious mix of Noah and the Whale style pop/folk and a bluesy edge that sounds straight out of a Dad's record collection. They are good too - bordering on very good - and Because We're Dead has a delicious edge to it with boy/girl vocals pushing around the stage playfully.

One is left with the feeling that Slow Club might end up making an album that is all last tracks from White Stripes records - It's True That We Love One Another/I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)/Effect And Cause and wondering if that would be brilliantly amusing or eventually annoying. Or both.

Brakes take to the stage with determination the three instrument men kicking into a new tune before the dominative Hamilton leaps to the middle of the stage rid of the pale, casual jumper he watched the support band wearing and in what can only be described as a shiny silver spacesuit. As he sings he closes his eyes and smiles nervously forward, not embarrassed so much as spiked by the moment and afraid that should he look out to the audience he would gaze on faces who simply did not get the joke.

Eamon Hamilton of Brakes on stage in Sheffield Students Union

Hamilton's songs breakdown in two ways. He has a good line in honest love songs - No Return being his best but is sadly missing from the set tonight - and he has a brand spiky politically aware songs the apotheosis of which is the eight second burst of Cheney which is modified with the happy word "Goodbye" appended. The former is standard fair - highly enjoyable fair, but standard - while the latter is rare in indie music which tonight we are defining as being what is played to the kids at Sheffield University Union.

The opening gives way to familiar ground - this gig is a warm up for the tour to support new album Touchdown but only a handful of 2009's tracks are played - so we are quickly into familiar ground with Margarita and The Most Fun. A lively group of lads begin to mosh during Spring Chicken and get jumpy in Cease And Desist and Porcupine Or Pineapple where Brakes are at their most curious, their funniest.

The set ups - God and the Devil playing cards, a war between spined creatures and fruit - are comical but the points made are more political, more interesting. Hamilton's presentation of his ideals as the comical is the musical equivalent of political cartooning seducing one into attention and to his message with a cheeky smile and an amusing bit of imagery. In that way Brakes live - with the built up sound that enables them to do All Night Disco Party lose something in the telling compared to Hamilton's solo shows that draw his cartoons in more sketched black and white than full colour.

However they make up for that with some fine thrashing on the guitar with On Your Side sounding grand and newbie Eternal Return booming brilliantly. Of the new offerings Crystal Tunings closes the set and is menacingly excellent while Hey Hey has an ebullient joy about it that guitarist Tom White revels in. Spaceman - or Don't Take me to Space (Man) to give a fuller name - saddles the two sides of Brakes better than any other song they have telling a story of alien abduction, seemingly friendly, but rejected cause despite all the corruption of the world Hamilton sees he has found a girl to hold hands with.

The guitarist makes a comment about Lloyds TSB being shaping shifting lizards and that David Icke was right after which Hamilton correction to White's laugher "There are a couple of holes in his arguments..."

Brakes are that kind of funny.