Monday, April 12th 2010
Maple Leaves, The Last Battle, and Beneath Us, The Waves
I hadn't really been planning on reviewing this gig, so being "off duty" meant I was having a beer or two. Lack of money meant there wasn't too much drinking, so hopefully things won't get too hazy...
Up first were The Last Battle. Or rather half of The Last Battle, some members having been lost to the dangers of drinking in the Sun. Seeing the band stripped back to just the three members possibly wasn't an ideal way to catch them live for the first time. They were fine, and the songs are great, but they'll hopefully not mind if I don't think they were firing on all cylinders last night.
Still, even a half decent Last Battle was more than good enough to keep me entertained, and eager to see the band again soon. This all sounds much less enthusiastic than it is meant to, I've realised. They were good! Also, the sound in Stereo was pretty much perfect, and stayed so all night, which was a lovely bonus.
Maple Leaves were up next, and surprisingly this was the first time I'd seen them too. They seem to have a fantastic ability to schedule gigs for nights when I'm either elsewhere, or too broke to leave the house, so it was great to finally catch them live.
Maple Leaves have a knack for writing upbeat, sunny folky pop songs that even if you haven't heard them before come across like a familiar friend that never fails to put a smile on your face.
Regular readers might have noticed that I'm a sucker for a sweet boy/girl harmony, something that Maple Leaves delivered in spades. Throwing in some instrument swapping along with the harmonies and gorgeous songs meant that Maple Leaves were right up my street. They are a band that it is physically impossible for me not to like, and they were on fine form.
Finally it was Beneath Us, The Waves - AKA Neil Milton - taking to the stage. I must be honest here, my main reason for planning to be off review duties was that I didn't know how this would go. I really enjoy the music that Neil makes - heck I'm even quoted on the gig poster saying as much - but the glacial, ambient soundscapes that he creates are something that I usually need to be in a certain frame of mind for, and I wasn't to sure how the music would translate into a live setting.
Obviously since I've ended up doing a review the music worked well, and any thoughts I had of having to smile through gritted teeth and feign enjoyment were dispelled quickly.
On stage Neil, his keyboard and gadgets were joined by a four piece string quartet,which went a long way to filling out the sound and keeping attention focused on the stage. Also joining in at one point were the aforementioned Maple Leaves, helping out on one song, and having a member - Julian - renamed Justin for the occasion.
The Beneath Us, The Waves songs were as beautiful as they always are, and happily worked well live, meaning I could go home happy.