Camden Barfly – August 7th
Waiting for the gig to start, I get a text from the friend who’s meant to be joining me: “Has Suvi started yet?” Three minutes later: “I mean Sivu though, don’t I? Suvi is the Swedish, crestfallen girl. Sivu is a guy from the Home Counties.” It’s weird that with the number of words in the universe we seem to have reached a point of critical mass when it comes to band names, artists often sharing words, given names and even concepts (I saw a vowel-less band name the other day that I could only think of pronouncing as ‘Cork Cormorants’. Really?). And here, a mere accidental vowel swap has caused confusion.
He does mean Sivu, though, and Sivu plays a set of quite unparalleled loveliness. Very simply layered with synth, cello and violin around his own voice and Gibson, his songs are examples of classic songwriting, carefully constructed and then lovingly arranged, with plucked strings often lending a sharper, modern edge.
Thumpers are rightfully gaining a reputation for themselves as one of the most joyful live bands around, and tonight they’re tighter than ever. A perfect example of a band’s sound being greater than the number of their parts; for some reason when I conjure up an image of them in my mind they’re a fearsome-in-numbers troupe like Edward Sharpe, or the Polyphonic Spree, but it’s actually only five of them bringing Thumpers’ brand of power pop to life live. It’s latest single ‘Unkinder‘ that really raises the roof as their final song of the evening.
On record, Night Works have two equal and separate tendencies; one towards introspection, somnolent production and soft harmonies, and another towards disco: prominent basslines, hooting synths and muted but triumphant guitar licks. It’s the latter incarnation taking to the stage in the packed Barfly, tearing through a set containing the more energetic moments from March’s release Urban Heat Island, as well as taking it up a bit on some of the quieter parts. Former Metronomy-er Gabriel Stebbings looks for all the world as if he’s stepped out of Duran Duran, with his guitar fills complementing those vocals that could have been laid down any time between now and 1978. The bass, though, the bass is the real star of this show. Wriggling through lines so sassy it’s surprising it allows any other instruments on stage with it, this bass (and its wrangler) is far more than a rhythm section. Gabriel calls Beth, the brilliant backing vocalist from Thumpers on stage for ‘Share The Weather‘, they’re joined by a mysterious figure from the crowd who appears to be a New York musician called Roman who does the rap, and it’s nothing less than euphoric. Never more so than on this track, there’s something about Night Works that’s instantly classic, and makes me feel weirdly nostalgic, as if I grew up toddling around to it on my parents’ record player. But at the same time it’s very much of the here and now, and therein lies its charm.