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misty's big adventure + restless list + kategoes... - jug of ale, moseley, 22/11/2006

simon gray 2006-11-22, 13:15:28
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If you like your popular beat combo concerts to feature fresh, genuinely original, and slightly off-the-wall music performed by bands who are accomplished musicians, composers, and songwriters, and where you can tell their reason for performing is the shear joy they feel in playing together and for you (rather than the band being a vehicle for satisfying egos, like so many rock-legend-wannabes), then last night's packed out upper room at the Jug of Alewas certainly for you, and certainly for pretty much everybody there as well. For me it was without doubt the best pub gig of the year, and almost certainly one of the best for a long time. 

Normally when reviewing I treat each band individually - and certainly each of these three bands could have made a good show if it was they who were headlining - but in this instance as well as credit to the acts, credit is also due to Arthur from the Catapult Club for putting together three bands which, each very different in their own way, complemented each other perfectly to make a show which was even greater than the sum of its parts. 

KateGoes... have only been together for about a year, were breaking in a brand new bass player last night, and are probably the youngest group of musicians I've seen play together since my youth orchestra days - and showed all the musical maturity and performance flair you would expect to see in a band on the main stage at the Academy. The stage look is quite (and I hope they're not cross with me for saying this - especially the blokes...) 'girly hippy', but the music combines elements of punk with primary school nursery rhyme with ballad with complex (for rock) rhythms and time signatures, incorporating instruments as diverse as a squeaky dog toy and a violin as well as guitars and keyboards. The songs were a perfect combination of funny with serious, and the occasional bit of sad, displaying the kind of child-like humour which if you're a fan of David Mitchell and Robert Webb will be right up your street. A nice touch was the way they set up the stage with living room / den paraphernalia such as beanbags, photographs, table lamps, and flowers - after a long tour, KateGoes... Home!

Restless List were last night a duo, having come all the way up from Brighthelm, Sussex on the Megabus (reminding me of one of my old band's fortnightly residency many years ago at the Sir George Robey in Finsbury Park where we travelled down on the train and the underground carrying the entire band's equipment in a shipping trunk!). Their genre is what used to be fiendishly difficult to pull off live (especially in a pub setting) but is now becoming gradually doable, electronica / 'laptop sounds' combined with live action, fully interactive rather than the karaoke you often get with this kind of thing. The pair of them between them produced a massive sound, crossing trip-hop without the hop (or should that be trip?) with the raw energy of The Prodigy, layered with the orchestral collages of a James Bond soundtrack. My only criticism of them would be that when they thought they'd fluffed a song, they didn't need to tell us about it - we didn't notice, and if we had we didn't need reminding about it... 

Lastly, Misty's Big Adventure, the band my friend in London has been urging me to see for getting on for two years - and like all her musical recommendations, turning out to be a thoroughly reliable one. The choppy rhythms and the sax and trumpet give them a bassline sound which recalls the ska beat of The Specials, but well updated for the noughties, but the tuneful sonorous baritone voice of lead singer Grandmaster Gareth recalls more The Divine Comedy; the comparison goes further with each of the songs being mini stories to be told, observations on life, the universe, and everything. Each song was relatively short, but in those 3 minutes nearer ten minutes of music were packed, with plenty of mayhem and jazz to be added to the lyrical melodies. Like Restless List and KateGoes..., any attempt to draw comparisons with other more famous artists just seems inadequate - really, they're in a class of their own. 

Finally a word has to be said about the sound engineer for the evening - every note of every instrument and every word of every song could be heard with total hi-fi crystal clarity; difficult enough at the best of times mixing keyboards with guitars with vocals where the words matter, but especially tricky with such complex multilayoured sounds from three entirely different bands. This was truly an artist of the sliders at work. 

I look forward to following the inevitable rise of all their careers in due course.

#birmingham #reviews #JugOfAle

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