Live: Dave Hause/Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun/Billy Bragg/Frank Turner/Crazy Arm, Camden Barfly, 12/4/12
Twas the night before Wembley, and all through the bar,
Stood plaid-clad sweaty men, in awe of guitars.
There is not much that I allow to disrupt my weekly Gossip Girl session. However, I am pretty pleased I permitted last week’s phone interlude [Ed: essentially, I had called Cara up in a panic as I had somehow completely forgotten about this show. Sorry and thanks again]. It resulted in a proper knees up mother brown of a night over in Camden’s Barfly. Xtra Mile Recordings (a label home to man-bands such as My Vitriol, At the Drive In, and Straight Lines) laid on a an evening showcase for some of their finest talents, in honour of a really big pop concert (i.e. Frank Turner and Billy Bragg at Wembley Arena) set to go down the following day.
I missed most of Dave Hause through no fault of my own (a fully grown man rang me in crying and I did not have the heart to tell him to sod off [Ed: wasn’t me this time]) – SORRY! What I did see was nice though. His set was a fast-paced folk, simple, but powerful chord patterns and raw, throaty vocals. If you take Gaslight Anthem, a bit of Beans On Toast and Frank Turner, spruce it up with Americana/Tropicana Ruby Breakfast Juice, you get what Dave Hause is about.
Jim Lockey & The Sun did some music next. There is nothing I like more than people watching music that they actually like (rather than watching something they have read is ‘cool’). It gives the room a vibe that is pretty tough to describe. People that know the words should go to more gigs. From start to finish the room resonated in unison with Jim Lockey’s vocals. The band also did a nice little Moses style trick. They trooped off the stage, parted the crowd and set up camp in the middle of the floor and did a shouty, guerrilla-gig rendition of Boat Song.
Again, the crowd provided the Cheltenham-based quartet not only with a backing choir, but also some improv harmonies (not always great harmonies, but top marks for effort). Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun are preparing will be doing some road-tripping as they are set to support Frank Turner a little later in the year. Oh, and Huw Stephens likes them too.
All evening the promise of a ‘special guest’ had kept the crowd guessing. The natural presumption was that Frank Turner himself was going to rattle off a set. And, despite Dave Hause telling the bar in clear cut American-English that the special guest was actually Billy Bragg, rumours continued to fly.
Bragg played a set peppered with his political asides and cheeky digs at his enthused audience (particularly one chap at the front who seemed to be having the time of his life down there). His set included The Milkman of Human Kindness, a dedication to the late Kirsty Maccoll by way of A New England, a topical tribute to those Hillsborough victims Scousers Never Buy The Sun, and this….. (although on a MUCH smaller scale of course):
So Frank did make a cameo, and Bragg got to practise (it seems it had been a good while since his last show). The room was as pleased and peachy punch with the defiant lefty. Tough acts to follow, right? Crazy Arm (a Devonshire 5 piece) were up next, and pretty much stormed it. They were loud, aggressive, energetic and would probably have been the kind of music I would have dug hard if I had ever been a teenage boy. They were tight,talented and tenacious. Odd name, but loud sounds.
Bands and fans alike both gushed all over Xtra Mile Recordings all evening. I’m pretty sure that while most of the people in that room were really looking forward to ‘the big one’ the following day at Wembley, I was pretty content with my little taster at Camden’s Barfly. Good times.
Words: Cara Dattani
Pictures: Xtra Mile, The 405
Thanks To: Dan Griff @ Press Counsel