Monday 16 March 2009

Red Light Company, Bodega Social

There’s a rare queue outside the Bodega although most of them are checking into the gig and then going into the bar for a drink. This seems to be the younger element, which allows us oldies, of which there are quite a few tonight, all obviously watching their units and drying out after the weekend, to grab the best spots stage front.

I’d spent the afternoon checking out the Grammatics’ odd-ball sound as reviews have suggested that the Grammatics along with headliners the Red Light Company have produced the two most impressive debut albums of the year so far. The few downloads that I can get hold of though, leave me a little underwhelmed. So it’s somewhat of a surprise to discover how phenomenal the four-piece from Leeds are live and that’s before you take into account that they come equipped with a Swedish lass in black tights with a cello between her thighs. Apparently Emilia, fresh from the Stockholm Youth Symphony Orchestra, answered an advert they posted up at Leeds University.

Emilia is actually a bit underused. When she does get involved though it’s to impressive effect, with her playing her cello just like she would a guitar.

The star of the show isn’t Emilia though but lead singer, guitarist and all round skinny bloke Owen Brinley with his clever lyrics, intense vocals and his guitar which dominates most of their sound.

The band seems genuinely grateful to people for turning outing to see them. I’m glad we took the trouble. A very pleasant surprise.

Talking of skinny folk, there’s not much meat on any of the bands tonight, as an equally undernourished Red Light Company take the stage and open with ‘Words Of Spectacular’.

Red Light Company are a cosmopolitan bunch, vocalist Richard Frenneaux is English but grew up down under. Bass player, Shawn Day was born in Osaka. Whilst James Griffiths (drums) is Welsh and Paul Mellon (guitar) Scottish. Chris Edmonds (keyboards) spoils it a touch by coming from Maidenhead.

The wonderful and criminally overlooked single ‘Scheme Eugene’ is next, with its sing-along chorus to which a fair number of the crowd oblige. You can imagine that had someone like the Killers recorded it, it would have topped the charts for eons. In fact, Brandon is probably spitting feathers that he didn’t pen it. Unfortunately the sound isn’t quite right for it and it doesn't quite hit the mark tonight but the dodgy mix is just right for the brooding ‘With Lights Out’ and so too for ‘Bahnhof Zoo’. A favourite of mine, which has a touch of the Editors about it. Aside from ‘Bahnhof Zoo’ which was a b-side, they stick to stuff from the ‘Fine Fascination’ album.

Red Light Company have been accused of being a bit emotionless but tonight Frenneaux is the perfect front man, eyes on the crowd, a bit of banter, plenty of gratitude and even a smile. Plus by the time ‘The Architect’ appears the sound is spot on and they've really into their stride.

The band have some ‘huge’ records, pulsating drums and meaty riffs. ‘Meccano’ is simply terrific, full of hooks, although the attempt to let the crowd do the vocal work doesn't quite work out. No matter how appropriate “crying out loud, the weekend is over” is for a Monday, the songs are not quite that well known, yet.

‘Arts & Crafts’ follows and is equally excellent. Then it’s all over far too soon with the grunge of ‘When Everyone Is Everybody Else’ and the band depart amid a fuzz of feedback.

They have planned an encore and hope to be shouted back for it but again they're not quite that big yet and the Bodega isn't really big enough to create that sort of atmosphere but they come back anyway to finish us off with 'The Alamo'.

A very easy band to enjoy and enjoy we did.

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