Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Civil Wars in Brum

The Civil Wars were my 10th gig of 2012, which is no mean feat given its only 14 March, and I have been just about surviving busy season.

The decision to see the Civil Wars was a last minute one, hearing them interviewed on Radcliffe and Maconie, on their magnificent 6 Music show was such an ear changing experience that I wrote down the name of the band (obviously not whilst driving) to investigate later, a trawl round the internet later found a live album for free download, and also the free single download for the small price of my email address......and a gig the following night in Birmingham so quickly the ticket was purchased and was raring to go.

Listening to the live album (available on the website and from Eddie's attic, a live music venue and Rooftop Grill in Georgia if the internet's to be believed, and very proud of the Civil Wars) what I was struck by was how much fun the Civil Wars seemed to have, it was all little jokes and interaction with the audience, a great night beckoned.

Getting to the venue, I've not seen the Digbeth Institute so packed in recent visits, in fact not since pre HMV revamp when I saw Elastica in their pomp and Mrs P spent the gig stood on a couple of pint pots to see. So it seemed that they had a bit of a following, dead easy to get to the bar, Civil Wars fans are certainly not hardened drinkers, and red stripe in hand I went to listen to the support act, Matthew & Atlas. Who 'filters his textured and dreamy take on Americana through a distinctly English folk sensibility, and - with his bruised and raw vocal to the fore - tells stories that sound like they’ve been handed down through the ages.' according to facebook and I must say he did what it said on the tin, quite delicately, quietly and politely. I clapped accordingly in the right intervals and wondered how Birmingham were doing against Leicester City (losing if you are interested, despite taking the lead from the penalty spot).

They then set up for the Civil Wars.......the crowd got very excited..........the stage was set, guitar stand, small keyboard, 2 mic stands, bit of smoke, red lighting and then on they came and THE CROWD WENT WILD, it was the riotous applause for the end of a gig and said Civil Warers were, I reckon, slightly surprised by this massively partisan crowd.

They got stuck into a few numbers, they were beautiful, the crowd went wild, Joy Williams positively beamed, but said very little, John Paul White smiled played his acoustic guitar and crooned away, but again said very little....and the crowd went wild.

They settled into their stride then, we were introduced to Joy's bouncy dress, and were reminded that the next song would be the cheerful one, the only cheerful one so better be ready as its not that long...and the crowd went wild. I had a right screamer and whooper behind me.

Given it was just the 2 of them the sound coming was full, booming whilst heavily sad country tinged, every note such perfect and Joy used little tricks such as retreating from the mic to add poignancy

The crowd got a little playful, around the pronunciation of Birmingham with JPW and a bit of banter between JPW and a Geordie at the front, so amused was JPW with the banter he dedicated the next song to him, unfortunately it was a song about yearning unrequited love for the central character, which set JPW, Joy and the crowd into great mirth.

Throughout it was clear that these debut album, self financed Grammy winners (for that is they) really appreciated the feedback from the crowd, it was great to be part of the interaction, playfulness and banter that was shared.

We were treated to the first airing (apart from the others on the tour) of their cover of Sour times by Portishead, which was an excellent interpretation, with the harmonising of the voices together being quite haunting over the acoustic guitar, and the then the gig drew to a close.......the audience went berserk to bring on the encore and out came the band, typical quips continued such as 'were you guys on the balcony doing all that stomping, bet you guys below were worried' and 'hope you guys enjoyed Matthew & Atlas, he kind of let us down as the warm up act's supposed to suck'

The encore included a cover of Michael Jacksons 'Billie Jean' an obvious crowd favourite as when requested what they wanted the audience all screamed for it and showing typical Brum hospitality, when offered a pint after the gig Joy politely declined showing off her preggers bump......which will sadly put off a return to Brum in the near future I would imagine.

To sum up, a cracking gig, Radcliffe and Maconie had commented how their voices seemed to be 2 halves of one voice which really seemed to be the case live, and I've not seen a band so obviously enjoying themselves and with such chemistry between them for donkey's years. Plus the banter between songs was Jarvis Cocker like in its appeal.

For a chance find on searching the web, I was very pleased indeed, buy the album and see them live!!!!

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