Jack Perrett, The Orders & Pastel – The Old Blue Last – August 20th 2019

You’re going to struggle if you head to an indie gig to find originality. The genre is chucking out little new and the young lads that are involved wear their influences very firmly on their sleeves. This is no bad thing; you just have to roll with it, right? Enjoy it for what it is and suspend the extremes of your critical faculty for a while.

This is certainly true of Tuesday night at the Old Blur Last (see what I deliberately did there?). Tonight (Matthew), we have three more than competent acts from across the UK who have all scoured through their parent’s CD collections to collate their chords of influence. They’re all, in different ways, likeable and it all makes for an entertaining though hardly ground-breaking evening.

Jack Perrett is the headliner and arguably the pick of the bunch. Jack and his two mates, from Newport South Wales, are very much from the indie-mod camp, oozing with Jam and early Beatles influence. It’s all ‘lazy days’ and ‘sunshine mornings’ carried along with a generous dose of harmony and melody. Jack shows that he’s got an ear for writing a catchy, radio-friendly singalong and more than demonstrates how appreciative he is to have a crowd to play in front of. Some guy in an Arsenal shirt bounds up onto stage and stays there for four songs taking pictures on his i-phone. He’s the merch guy but it’s not entirely clear why he thinks it appropriate to hog Jack’s limelight. Jack and the others are too polite to tell him to fuck off. The kids of today eh?  

 

The Orders have travelled from the Isle Of Wight for this show. They wear shorts because that’s what everyone does on the island. Another three piece, you can tell that they’ve practiced hard in their bedrooms. The floppy-haired guitarist who also takes lead vocal duties can certainly play his instrument; many of the songs descend into psychedelic wig-outs with extended solos when we perhaps want short and snappy. It’s Britpop with occasional swerves towards grunge. Sometimes you can’t entirely make out what the singer is saying between tunes; he needs to project, show a bit more confidence with the mic yet I’d still see them again. 

 

Pastel are playing when I arrive. From the way they look to the sound they make, these guys from Swansea via Manchester nail their indie credentials to the mast. Think shoegaze and The Stone Roses with an Oasis sneer and you’ll have pinpointed Pastel. But, to their credit, they don’t come across as cocks on stage; there!s a sort of contained confidence, a shuffling laid-backness that’s actually quite charming. Admirable.

 

I’m glad I made the effort to get on the 205 and head to the Old Blue Last tonight. All three bands have entertained and it’ll be interesting to follow their progress from here. 

The Lottery Winners and Depression, Baby – Sebright Arms – February 26th 2019

I’m glad that I went out tonight. Feeling a tad tired after last night’s restlessness (here), I almost did the unthinkable and curled up early. 

But this room is still sauna-like and frankly unpleasant. I’ve discovered the source of the difficulty though. There’s a thermostat in the corridor of this Airbnb and a guest in another room seems to think it a good idea to turn this up to max at every opportunity. I’m now switching it to something sensible whenever I leave the room. There are no compromises here; this is a ‘negotiation’ I will win by sheer bloody-mindedness.

In truth it wasn’t much cooler down in the basement of the Sebright Arms. Another new London venue, these trips out are delicious. The Sebright is a spacious and busy pub; upstairs the piped music is loud as it dwarves any commentary from the football being shown on the big screen. Nobody seems bothered by Bury vs Portsmouth anyway. 

The basement venue for music is functional, dark and sticky. Tonight, I’ll be watching The Lottery Winners. From oop north, I’ve been aware of the name for a while without paying them much attention. Initial pre-gig impressions are strong; two of them, beardy giants both, shake my hand as I enter the room. They’ve got a slightly blurry, fuzzy backdrop pinned to the wall behind the drum kit announcing the band’s name and some flickering old black and white TV sets dotted around for the same purpose. You suspect that The Lottery Winners mean business.

But first it’s the support for the evening, Depression, Baby. An initial sense that they might be trying a bit too hard to be cool gives way to a general feeling that they’re bloody good and that they’ve got fabulous tunes. It’s swathed in the past with bits of rock ‘n’ roll, doo wop and country coming to the fore. But, there are also cinematic sweeps and velvet flourishes that give this a decadence not unlike Father John Misty or The Last Shadow Puppets. They’ve got a fine vocalist, an interesting turn of phrase lyrically and a neat way of harmonising. New single, No Strangers, still has less than 1,000 Spotify plays and the band are keen to bump this. It’s a travesty that more haven’t listened. Give it time and their listens will surely rocket.

 

It’s also something of a travesty that more don’t know about The Lottery Winners. From the off you know that this is going to be a hoot. Larger than life singer, Tom, choreographs a last-minute band entrance to Push The Button by the Sugababes. He’s an effervescent ball of energy for a 20 stone man; always wise-cracking, corrupting and being mischievous, it’s a bit like watching Johnny Vegas front a band. The joking around and tomfoolery never gets tiresome.

That’s partly because The Lottery Winners have the material to back them up as well. Quite why this quartet from Leigh are still playing free London shows when, by rights, they should have hit the jackpot and be charging for the privilege, is anybody’s guess. The loyal fan base here tonight are already aware of their brilliance but they pick up other converts (including me) en-route. 

The offer is a sort of best of British pop; singalong choruses (‘a publisher’s dream’) harking back to Britpop highs, they freely comment on and criticise the state of life for young people today. Recent single ‘That’s Not Entertainment’, channels their anger about reality TV through a saucy-seaside postcard lens and ending up sounding like the Northern spit of Blur circa The Great Escape. 

Long-standing followers urge for The Lottery Winners to eventually release their album. “We thought we’d cut out the middlemen and put it straight into the charity shops”, quips Tim. “I wrote this one about my Mum, it’s called I don’t love you”, he states before playing a heartfelt lovely number. 

Loud Northern bastards they might be but they’re also the complete ticket. They have the tunes, the stagecraft and the girth. By the time that they get all baggy on us and recall what it’s like to be 21 again, the knowing lyrical nods towards the Inspiral Carpets (This is how it feels) feel almost throwaway. But one suspects that this cleverness is no accident. They encourage a crazy dancing chap to join them on stage, their very own Bez in the making. 

The room is less sauna-like when I eventually arrive home yet the sweat from the venue still lingers. I mightn’t have won the lottery but I’m winning my thermostat battle – and seeing great bands in the process. 

 

The Dowling Poole – Rebecca Receiving

 Mark sent me a tweet. 

Mark likes his rock music though I was pretty sure that this tweet wouldn’t be recommending a band bursting with guitars. Mark knows that our musical tastes converge slightly but that the nearer he moves towards Download territory the more I move away.

The tweet recommended this new song and video from The Dowling Poole. I listened and watched whilst on a train journey. The signal wasn’t wonderful even though the single was. I had to press play again and again.

In truth I didn’t mind.

‘Rebecca Receiving’ is exactly the sort of tune that’s up my street. It’s got an undeniably quirky edge that reminds me of XTC or some of Blur’s better Brit Pop moments. 

The theme is undeniably sad. Rebecca appears to be clinging to her youthful dreams even though her years are advancing. Like many of us, growing old gracefully is not an option for Rebecca and so we fight the wrinkles with withering weariness. 

The theme might be sad – but it’s approached with fun and an upbeat humour. Like some of the very best writing of Ray Davies, it evokes a certain joy from its character based derision. 

Wikipedia tells me that “The Dowling Poole are a British psychedelic Power Pop duo made up of multi instrumentalists Willie Dowling (formerly of Jackdaw4 and Honeycrack) and Jon Poole (formerly of Cardiacs).” This is the first releases from their forthcoming second album, One Hyde Park. 

It was making more sense now. I’ve still got lots of vinyl in my back room from the late 1980’s when I bought every Cardiacs record going. I really ought to head back there. 

I’m glad that Mark sent me a tweet.