The evening kicks off with someone I've never heard of. Geoff Lawrence. One man, one acoustic guitar, one stool, one rug (nicely positioned by the venue). The first words out of his mouth concerned the venue misreading his rider. He had in fact asked for drugs. Powerful, sad, witty and funny. The voice strong but surreal sounding giving Geoff's set a feeling of otherness. The guitar playing masterful. The combination letting control and engagement with and of the audience be hypnotic. The sadness being invert and the humour overt. His song ‘Gun’ with the line ‘I only ever see you when I haven't got my gun’ made many piss themselves. The rivers of urine were a flowing. A fine opening set.
Next out of the blocks came Cat Eliza T resplendent in sequinned jacket. A young girl with a voice somewhere between Amanda Palmer and Carole King, powerful, rocking, but sweet as ice. The guitar work finely tuned like a Bruce Cockburn album was interspersed with a ukulele gripped in a full nelson. If only more punk bands had this power. No pretensions just ability and well crafted tunes which quirked in places but were never twee. A fine ‘second on’ set.
Sam Keyes is the third performer. This time without a stool. Classic singer songwriter stuff incorporating twisted love songs of broken relationships and laments. Another performer who masters his craft and control's an audience. Glimpses of Springsteen are there to spot but not the overblownness of some Springsteen, hated by this old punk rockers heart, more the stripped and structured but crafted tunes such as ‘We look after our own’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ . No nonsense, straight ahead, wear heart on the sleeve type of stuff. Splendid. It’s turning into a great gig so far but...
I had travelled a long way to see Jonathon Marriott and the Painted Birds first ever gig and they were shit, Hot. Drums, bass, guitar, keyboard and Jonathon Marriott on acoustic guitar. A well-oiled machine rocking out on a par with Crazyhorse. Marriott's voice is fucking powerful and unique. I have raved about him before in a Fungalpunk review. I buzz off his enthusiasm, his stage presence and his song writing. The inherent spirituality seldom in other DIY acts but which lifts you like a good Nick Cave song. Nick Cave with the social conscience of Billy Bragg. However Marriott was not the only expert in the band. Each member of The Painted Birds is a spot on musician who evidently enjoy what they do. The great thing about each member was their control. Good musicians can often get wanky and self-indulgent. The Painted Birds blend, craft and build. They are one unit. I am one of those people who likes to hear songs they know ,so for me, although the other songs were great, the highlights were ‘We are not what we own’ and ‘This is your scene’ although I did love the Against Me cover which brought back memories of the first time I heard them. Travelling from Chicago to Indianapolis in a van with punk bands Subatomic and Indianapolis Forever (named thus because they thought they would never gig outside their home town) to do a gig. A big adventure for this country lad (just thought I would tell you that). Anyway digression over. Jonathon Marriott and the Painted Birds were excellent. I wonder where a band who start out so well will go. I await with keen interest. I hope these birds keep soaring.
So a right arse kissing review from Eagle Spits. Respect where respect is due.
review by Eagle Spits (22 February 2015)