Morningstar, This is the Kit and Wonders of Nature
Louth British Legion Hall on 11th April 2009
Reviewed by Helen on 25th May 2009
A musty old British Legion Hall in a small country town. Trestle tables and plastic chairs, occupied by deli-owners and people in stretch velvet and cheesecloth hippy skirts. Fair-trade apple juice. Old jam jars full of fresh daffodils. Tealights in strange containers. The promise of a raffle in the interval. I never thought this would be a recipe for the best gig I have ever attended.
Life as a reviewer can be pretty depressing. Low-rent PR companies invite you to gigs not worth attending, and to interviews not worth writing up. Friends encourage you to go see the Next Big Thing, who turn out to be Last Year's Boring Thing. Dozens of CDs land your your doorstep, all from identi-kit bands with interchangeable sounds. Boring boring boring.
But it's all worth it for those serendipitous occasions when you just get lucky. I found out about this gig from the bloke down the local independent music shop in my local town, and thought, why not?
So yes, daffodils and tealights. Visually, the whole thing was just perfect. All that lit the room, aside from candles on every table, was an old-fashioned lampshade tilted at a precarious angle and a whole load of fairy lights. It was beautiful. The scene was set.
Wonders of Nature
I have to say, this review is probably a little upside-down, because (despite being the support act) Wonders of Nature was without a doubt the best band of the lot. With two very different vocalists, percussion and intriguing synths, there was an awful lot going on.
Highlights: the female singer (who, we were informed, was a vet on call, and could run out at any time) had a fantastic voice - very Alanis Morrisette/Joni Mitchell. Also, the really stand-out part of the outfit was provided by one Maxim Griffin (once met, never forgotten) with a synth plugged into a Kaoss pad. Without this, the band was excellent. With it, they were outstanding. It added a beautiful discordance to the affair which, coupled with complicated syncopation and great bass guitar, was just brilliant.
Favourite song? The one about the lead guitarist's holiday, which included the line "Hello, Mr Crab, hello Mr Crayfish/Don't worry, I'm not here to eat you today". This might sound horribly fey, but honest to god, it wasn't.
This is the Kit
A girl on a banjo with an amazing, backed by a bloke with a violin. Every song by this outfit reminded me of a slow walk through the local countryside on a warm August evening with a brown dog rooting through the hedgerows for nests of mice and sticks to plat with. Precise, I know. But it just did.
I think the brilliance of it all was that the songs were so good they really managed to hold their own - the actual rendition of them was minimal. The lead singer, Kate Stables, was so charming that she could easy have done it by herself, but the excellent accompaniment added real depth and warmth. It was like a musical flotation tank.
What's more, the one thing that could so easily have ruined it was part of what made the event so special. It was a very little girl (the lead singer's daughter) running loose, dancing and squealing. As hard-hearted as this undoubtably is, I generally believe children have no place at the majority of evening events. However, in this setting it was charming, especially when you could tell that a lot of the songs were about her.
At this point, it seemed like the evening really couldn't get any better.
It couldn't. I don't want to dwell on this too much, because in the end it got too much for me and my companion and we ended up leaving, but basically this act did nothing to win me over. They'd done some kind of singing workshop in the morning, and collected a random group of people into a "choir". They walked into the room with masks made from paper plates. My companion, who is fluent in Latin, said they were totally raping whatever it was they were trying to sing, which was something to do with God. They attempted harmony through the act, with varying success. There was audience participation, in the form of clapping.
The band was truly excellent, but there's only so much singing in the round that I can take before having to flee. So I fled.
What can I say? This was a fantastic evening which even the horrendously embarrassing middle-class singalong at the end couldn't ruin. I really hope that Wonders of Nature in particular do well, because they were terrific. Moral of the story: if someone invites you to a gig at a tiny venue in a country town, for god's sake go.
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