Thursday, 1 March 2007

Brakes, Rescue Rooms

I arrive at the Rescue Rooms to catch the end of the first of two support bands. Somebody called Cook, he has a first name too but I can't remember it. He also appears to be a band not a soloist. He/they are ok but nothing special. Wonder if he/they are local?

Next up is a bit of a treat because tonight the Brakes are being supported by Chris Rea and his band Absentee. I've never liked Chris Rea and have never forgiven him for 'The Lady In Red'. Which is a bit harsh because that was by Chris De Burgh. So tonight it's time to make up.

Absentee appeal to me because I'm in a bit of a 'lyric' phase at the moment and they have wonderfully maudlin lyrics about failure and the sheer hopelessness of life. Which is really uplifting. They have songs with titles like ‘More Troubles’ and lines like “Use your heart, and other body parts”. One he announces as a song about being drunk and having a girlfriend because the two are inseparable.

Chris or shall we can him Dan, as that apparently is his name and his hefty baritone voice are on form tonight. To only compare him with Chris Rea is a bit unfair, he's also part Lou Reed and part Tom Waits too and as a band they sound a bit like another great lyrical favourite of mine 'The National'. What a concoction.

The female keyboard and glochenspiel player and backing vocalist (Melinda) also blows into some wierd gadget which she then play with her fingers, no it's not a set of bagpipes, it's just a box with a tub coming from it. The sound comes out sounding like a mouth organ would. I'm told its call a Melodica.

They finish with the brilliance of ‘Something To Bang’.



Some lad, who is obviously with one of the bands and is rather oddly wearing a tea cosy on his head, is chatting up this girl next to me. She appears to be at University here. At one point he takes her back stage. A little later she returns alone looking very distressed. Oh dear I wonder what went on there. Then ten minutes later I see her leading one of her friends back stage with her. They don't return. Hmmm. One girl not enough?

And so to the Brakes, who are both weird and wonderful in equal measures. They immediately strike up a great rapour with the crowd and Eamon (formerly of British Sea Power) is a great front man. I know it's my age but this has to be the 'nicest' gig I've ever been too. There's a good mix of old and young folks here, although I feel like one of the youngest. Not a single glass of anything is thrown in the air. No one pushes me in the back or stamps on my foot yet it's a great crowd and people dance, sing and have fun with no hassles. I watch all three bands leaning against the same pillar close to the front. I even go to the toilet and come back and somebody has saved my spot for me.

So it is rather inappropriate that they open with "Hi How Are You". Which is a song about the annoyance of inane conversation at gigs as there is no such distractions tonight. The song includes the great line "Won't you shut the fuck up, I'm just trying to watch the band". The entire lyric to this song is on one of their t-shirts. I text L to see whether she wants one or if it's appropriate to get one for Daughter. Oddly I manage to text out but now I've got no reception at all. So I buy one for myself. Both the girls will probably end up scrapping over it.

The Brakes are hard to describe they play a mix of quirky, highly original indie and quaint country songs. Tonight they also do some odd cover versions. For instance I know little about 'Camper Van Beethoven' but tonight they cover a track called 'We Saw Jerry's Daughter' and yes it's rather good. Then they lob banana hand grenades at the crowd during Porcupine or Pineapple.

A Brakes gig was always going to be short; their debut album 'Give Blood' had sixteen tracks but lasted less than half an hour. Some of their tracks last only a matter of seconds. They are allocated 75 minutes yet don't fill it, yet it still seems a long gig because they play so many tracks.



They play out with my fave 'Ring A Ding Ding' but then promise one more 'Comma Comma Comma Full Stop' all 6.9 seconds of it. Although I'm sure they cut it short tonight. The words are easy to learn, they are all in the title. They return to play three more tracks including their cover of 'Jackson' however regrettably without the vocals of the The Duke Spirit's Leila Moss.

Excellent gig.

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