Sunday, 22 July 2012

School of Seven Bells - Live Gig Review Wolvehampton

Schools of Seven Bells: Wolverhampton Slade Rooms: 
Gig 33 Friday 20 July 2012:

After a week of stress and crap at work I woke knackered on Friday, a long day at work and not in the right frame of mind really for a gig, but luckily caffeine'd up I made the way to Wolverhampton. Made slightly more challenging by the police closing the only road I knew into the town centre I pottered through housing estates, hoping to see the metropolis ahead, which finally appeared.
Delayed I got into the venue at a trot to a jolly big doorman who stamped my hand to tell me I had missed most of the first band, luckily I had 3 songs left to enjoy of local band Silhouettes whose 3 songs were a bit of a mixed bag, but really impressive was the falsetto on the penultimate song by the guitarist / singer, which worked great with 2 sets of keyboards either side. Baldy keyboarder on the right was very much into the gig, bouncing rave stylee whilst playing and interjecting inbetween tracks to fill with a very deep voice explaining why he wasn't allowed usually to chat. Other lasting impression was the random haircut of the singer, shaved at the sides, clump of hair on top and straggly fringe. I hope the start of the set had more falsetto singing in it, as Puressence style that really stuck out.

A pint of 'wife beater' and I was feeling pretty excited about the next band, Sylver Tongue, the venue had filled up a little more, so roughly a third full to see the new incarnation of former Ash, Nightnurse, KT Tunstell band and solo performer Charlotte Hatherley take to the stage. To be fair when I read about this support to School of Seven Bells it was a no brainer to book up.

First impressions were that this was a really well put together band, they had a concept, central to this was Charlotte, hair highlighted and slicked back, red guitar slung over her back and what looked like a short fake fur cape / shawl round the shoulders, reminded me of the sorts of thing Sigue Sigue Sputnik wore (but luckily no fright mask).

She looked futuristic and launched into the first song Creatures, which my first impression was of  an electronic Kate Bush, high praise indeed. The songs were rattled through, lots of asking for 'more drums, not backing!' from the band. After two or three tunes I noticed the styling on the two ladies flanking Charlotte on keyboards and bass which was a bit Blue Peter, normal attire which was enhanced with 2 clip on fringes fixed to the shoulders, not quite as rock star as Charlotte but kind of fitted in. Probably the best support band I have seen in a long time and hopefully an album will come out soon. It's the first time that I've seen a stylised band in a long long time, probably since the hives, and in this world of infinite choice it was great to see, having picked up Bowie's Ziggy Stardust LP this week, you can see that a choice in image can really last the test of time, although I'm not expecting to be holding my commemoration of this band in 40 years, but who knows..... Really brave move from Charlotte but one well worth it. Last song of the set was a real highlight. Not sure of the title but it was superb, a building up with catchy chorus intense Charlotte of keyboards and guitar. Tried looking through the Youtube vids and still none the wiser.

Onto the main event, the School of Seven Bells or SVIIB to give them their handy moniker, another band from New York turning up in the back end of nowhere looking a little shell shocked. Central members being the incredibly beautifully haired chap Benjamin Curtis (see pic above for proof) and the Egyptian Bob and ear ring sporting Alejandra Deheza. They came on to a whooping crowd, who looking round looked a proper muso audience, I felt at home, and I imagine most of those present will have come across SVIIB (I think more bands should have abbreviations like this) on 6 Music. 

Songs cracked along, Alejandra combining her voice with harmonies from the keyboard player and songs building and building, when she was on guitar the blur of bangles on her right hand worked. For the hour they were on, I was pretty transfixed, songs (I think) were spread from the 3 albums to date and the set hung together well, support band Sylver Tongue had tweeted they were playing with the 'Lush' SVIIB and that's a good way to describe things, the vocals really are lush. A highlight for me was the opener for the new album Ghostory, The Night which is a cracking tune and has me bopping around on a regular basis. It was pretty difficult not to get caught up and bop in the gig and from looking around the audience, there looked to be quite a few whose default mode was not bop, myself included being caught up in the moment.

Another highlight was the Eighties feeling Scavenger, starting with a great bass drum booming, with dreamy lyrics circling with the Chorus of 
to make you feel loved
to make you feel wanted
to make you feel fire
to make you feel like

This was followed by ILU from the second album, which takes a while to get going then, when its really embedded in your head it starts reinforcing the 'I want you to know that I loved you' over and over hypnotically. SVIIB are definitely a band you want on the side of good in the world, filling my mind with hypnotically evil messages would not be the way forward, as by the end of the gig I would probably have done anything Alejandra had told me.

Wrapping up the band played the again brilliant 6 minutes of Low times, another 'tune' as you may say, listening to it now again, you just can't stop moving to this band....

After what felt like no time for the encore they were off with a brief 'Thank you guys so much, sorry we haven't been here ever, this is the last one' and disappeared..........another favourite new band........BOOM!

Many thanks to whoever put this on youtube from Friday - as you can see - hypnotic, beautiful voice and far too good hair from Benjamin!


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