Over the last couple of years I’ve been getting back into the habit of seeing live music. But most of the gigs I’ve seen recently have been at relatively large venues. I haven’t been going to places like Wembley Arena, but I’ve seen a lot of gigs at places like the Union Chapel and the Barbican Centre.
One thing that I haven’t done for ages is to just go and see some bands in a small venue like a pub. Last night I put that right and went to the Monto Water Rats on Gray’s Inn Road.
There were four bands on the bill. The night started with Flaming June. They are an “alternative folk” band from Suffolk. Their music certainly has a folky feel to it, but it’s presented in an enjoyably modern manner. In some ways they remind me of the (much missed) Boothill Foot-tappers. They got even better when the lead singer remembered to plug her guitar in! They don’t seem to have any music available to buy or download yet, but they mentioned an EP which will hopefully be released soon. I’ll be looking out for it. If you see them on a bill then they’r definitely worth checking out.
Next up were a band who I think were called Pirate Jenny but I can’t find any evidence of a British band of that name (note to bands: if no-one is likely to know who you are then it’s worth telling us several times). Just before they appeared on-stage I overheard a friend of theirs in the audience saying how they hadn’t had time for a soundcheck. That would explain why it took them ages to set up and get going. They told us that it was their first London gig and that fact combined with the lack of a soundcheck meant that they seemed rather nervous. There were a couple of false starts and the sound really wasn’t very good. But despite that, there was an enthusiasm that to their performance that meant I enjoyed it immensely. They were selling an EP, but I didn’t buy a copy as I thought I’d get a download from the internet. I’m regretting that now as I can’t find any kind of web presence for them. I suspect I’ve got their name wrong.
The third act was called The Raven. They were a more traditional folk duo. It was nice stuff, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first two acts.
Throughout those first three acts I had a pretty good spot near the front of the room. But it was starting to get a bit crowded there so I moved to the back of the room to get a bit more space before Eliza Carthy came on. It didn’t really work. The venue seemed to have sold far too many tickets for the night and the place had become uncomfortably overcrowded. I was tired, too hot and couldn’t really see the stage from my new spot. I’m ashamed to admit it, but after Eliza had done three or four songs I sloped off and went home. I’ll need to make plans to see her again soon to make up for that.
I don’t feel too bad though. In Flaming June and Pirate Jenny (or whatever they are called) I’ve discovered two news bands that I’m really excited about.
I call that a successful night out.