This is a type of blog post that I haven't done for ages: the gig review. When I was Head of Music at Rare FM, a job that meant getting review tickets to gigs a couple of times a week, I churned out loads of gig reviews, but since then I haven't gone to gigs all that regularly at all.
On Friday though, I had agreed (in a state of slight drunkeness), to go and see Tilly and the Wall at the Luminair in Kilburn, North London, with my friend Alison (affectionately known as 'crazy Alison'). I hadn't even heard of the band before, but after hearing a couple of tracks on their website, decided they were worth a punt.
In support though were The Semifinalists (see obligitory myspace space), who turned out to be the better band of the evening. A disparate threesome who met at art school (it shows), they consist of a drummer, who unusually does much of the singing, a synth player and a crazy-dancing, comedy-glasses-wearing guitarist, who also both do vocals. The result is a real lo-fi indie sound performed with bags of energy and a cosmic intensity. The songs were varied and interesting, and my only negative comment is that it all sounded a bit too rehearsed, with no banter between tracks and a backing beat which seemed to come from a pre-recorded tape rather than any of the onstage instruments. Nevertheless, the music was inspiring enough to make me seek out the record on Saturday afternoon, so they must be doing something right.
Tilly and the Wall (see their myspace space too) by contrast were a band that clearly had great rappor with their fans but underperformed on stage. With the beat provided by a trio of tapdancers rather than any form of drums, Tilly and the Wall are entertaining to watch, but the gimmick did seem, to me at least, to wear off pretty fast. Plagued by soundmixing troubles which threw the whole set out of kilter, the tapdancing sounded tinny and the guitar, keyboards and sometimes vocals all faded in and out of the mix, rendering many songs completely flat. By the end, the band, clearly fed up with not being able to hear much through their own monitor speakers, threw in the towel and invited half the audience up on stage to dance with them in what was more of a party than a gig.
With all this, it was hard to judge Tilly and the Wall. The fans in the audience knew the songs and the words enough to be able to sing along and ignore the poor performance, but it was a bit incomprehensible for any newcomer. Their album tracks, from what I've heard from their website, sound a lot more together though.