I’m making a conscious decision this week to check out gig venues in London that are new to me. With some of the more obvious places now ticked off, I head north and to The Finsbury. There’s entertainment in this Manor House pub most nights but for some reason I’ve not considered trekking up here before.
And that’s my loss. This is a busy boozer with a back venue of not inconsiderable space. The stage is raised and the lights good. I can overlook the smoke machine overdosing just after acts take to the stage. For some, I’m sure the haze adds to the atmosphere though for this older man it simply brings on the wheeze.
Harry Heart is on first. It’s just him with an acoustic guitar. He does nothing wrong as such but also nothing to stand out. He’s got a pleasant manner between tunes and we glean that Harry is probably here from Australia. He plays a tune that he ‘normally plays with four other blokes’ and another that he ‘wrote the last time he was in England a few years back’. The voice is a strained Jeff Buckley but, on first listen at least, none of these tunes really stand out. Even when Harry changes his guitar tuning, the songs all pretty much mesh into one. He offers free CDs from a murky merch table, a nice touch from a nice chap.
Jimmi Herbert has bought a new band with him. In crueller moments, I wonder if he’s raided his college Dungeons and Dragons after school club to find them. It’s their first gig and they’ll no doubt get better as they perform more together. Jimi, half wearing a floral shirt and with frizzy long hair is every inch the slacker yet his voice and manner is distinctive enough to mark him out. A chilled and laidback jazzy hip-hop, I struggle a bit to get beyond the notion that future single, Purple Pills, sounds like Frank Spencer covering Easy Life. Oooh Betty.
Easy Life are a band of the moment and I suspect that Leyma (up next) have also been influenced by their rise. More jazzy-chilled stuff with splashes of hip-hop, there’s an effortless cool about them. Leyma has a deep voice that contrasts well with track-suited Siv on bass. They’ve got a raucous fan base who have come from the East of this city to support. And in tunes such as ‘Extra Extra’ and ‘Smile For A Second’, they’ve got the material to back up the buzz that’s forming around them. Older adults stride around giving direction – managers and advisers one suspects who have promised these young lads fame, glory and celebrity endorsement. An enthusiastic but official photographer takes photos everywhere even jumping on stage and taking pics of Leyma’s set list. Somebody needs to tell him to turn the flash on his camera off. It dazzles like you’ve just been blinded by the sun and ultimately spoils the enjoyment of the unconverted.
A track by Rilo Kiley plays in the interlude between Leyma and tonight’s headliner, Lonnie Storey. I recall how much I miss that band.
Lonnie Storey is a charmer. His thing is lo-fi bedroom pop and he does so with the manner of Mac De Marco and the voice of Edwyn Collins. His confidence is understated with more than one tune announced as “being about making a dick out of yourself”. He specialises in crisp, cheesy guitar riffs executed with fine technique as the programmed-synth bleeps and beats away in the background. He tells all that he’s not yet released much but that more will be coming. I like his music and resolve to check out more when it arrives.
I’ve been to some cracking gigs in recent weeks. This one doesn’t perhaps hit the heights of some of those but I’m glad to tick another venue from my London list. I’m sure there’ll be a return in coming weeks