Saturday, July 15, 2006

No use in hiding the joy from the bright noon sun

A rather nice bonus came my way Wednesday night, when Martin from Uprock Narratives and Unknown Pleasures e-mailed me to say that he had a spare ticket to see Texas five-piece Midlake at the Fiddlers in Bristol. Any self-respecting blogger has heard and read a lot about Midlake recently, and a number of people have recommended their new album, to me (even my own uncle).

But, well, being rather snooty about these things, I haven’t really given my full attention to them and tend not to write about bands that are already well-covered. Still, gift horses and all that…

The Fiddlers is a pretty good venue (though a little hard to find) which has quite a nice feel to it and a good sound. First up was a guitarist, whose name I missed, who was OK but nothing to get too excited about. Next, however, was an Irish singer called Fionn Regan with a rather groovy haircut who kind of reminded me of Roddy Frame and who brought with him an almost feral drummer to spice up his songs. The pair of them were excellent, playing a number of intelligent and interesting songs, backed up by some real tub-thumping from behind. I loved them.


I do have a bit of a tendency to shoot my bolt a bit at gigs, getting over-excited about support bands and not quite “getting” the main act. So I was beginning to wonder if this evening was going to be another one in this vein, but I needn’t really have worried; Midlake were also excellent.

Led by Tim Smith (a name dear to any Gloucester rugby fan, for entirely different reasons) and boasting some sort of music college pedigree, Midlake are really a very clever bunch, not averse to wearing a few dodgy influences (or guilty pleasures, as Martin would have it) on their collective sleeve. They seem to be quite a jovial bunch of fellers too, despite the melancholic edge to their songs, and are all ridiculously gifted musically, swapping guitars and synths over in a bewildering fashion. At one point four of them were all playing at various keyboards. They managed to make it sound rather rough around the edges, though, and in my opinion, their songs were the better for that. (I’m listening to Bamnan and Slivercork now, and although it’s pretty good, there’s a little bit too much production for my liking.)

Being a beardie myself, it was also rather encouraging to see three of the band sporting facial hair (real beards too, none of your normal pop star nonsense). At times, I thought they looked a bit like the Band, and, like the Band, there was a feeling of not quite being able to nail down which decade Midlake have come from, which again I rather like.

This being Partly Porpoise, and me being something of a snob, I’d really have preferred to post a track by Fionn Regan, but unfortunately there are none legally available at the moment, although you can stream them here. But, hey, Midlake were great, so at the risk of looking like some sort of slutty ratings whore, I’ll post some of the tracks available from their site.

Cheers guys, a really good evening… (And thanks, Martin)

Some of them were superstitious

Kingfish Pies

And while we’re at it, Bars and Guitars has posted the text of an e-mail he received from Tim Smith’s Dad, which makes rather pleasant reading.

Good on you, Billy Gene, you should be proud!

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