Live reviews

Econoline, Jason Sheppard, Twinkie & Ann Arbor - Lamplighters, Leicester

The lamplighters in Leicester, known these days primarily as a Rock Bar, hosted a superb collection of bands on a drab October Thursday.

First up were Ann Arbor, an instumental two piece comprising of Matt Jones (bass) and Tony Waterfield (guitar). Backed by a powerfully programmed drum machine, the duo bludgeoned the audience with a brand of noise which is as compelling as it is unusual in today’s musical climate. Only 15 or so minutes – but breathless stuff. At times Ann Arbor appear almost determined to blow the venue up such is the power of what they do.

Twinkie (from Nottingham) followed next. Fresh from supporting Fugazi no less in front of 3000 fans, the way they connected to the audience at the Lamplighters is a credit to their charismatic stagecraft. Great visually, combining indie chic with a stylish 1940's moustache provided by the singer/ bassist, with a bit of David Byrne eccentricity thrown in for good measure. However Twinkie are not merely good lookers – their sonic range goes from earth shattering chord progressions and guitar riffs, to the subtleties you’d associate with Portishead at their most endearing. Vocals combine masculine resonance with feminine softness – the perfect mix. See this band!

Jason Anderson is the singer and driving force behind the band Wolf Colonel. They have recorded an eponymous album that interestingly, Jason chooses to promote himself with a series of acoustic gigs, rather than involving other band members. Previous to this he was in London, and following the Lamplighters gig was off to Leeds.

The approach Jason takes is ‘camp fire’ style. He stands in the middle of the auditorium amongst the crowd, completely unplugged and proceeds to deliver a 30 minute set of wonderful songs – brilliant lyrically, full of melody and connecting with the audience from the first note. To see every member of the audience hanging on to every word is testament to Jason as a performer. The songs are personal and intimate, laced with humour and improvised lyrics.

Sample lyric –
‘She threw away all her bras /
Started listening to Was not Was!’

The audience listened, laughed and queued up 10 deep to buy copies of the album within seconds of the last song (‘Death Face’). Brilliant.

And so to the evening’s main attraction. Taking to the stage well behind schedule and after top performances from a classy supporting line up, Econoline provided a passionate and strong performance. This is a band on top form right now – tight, appearing to believe in what they do and again, moving from deathening crescendos to moments of subdued quietness within seconds.

A jangly chord led opening warmed the set up nicely. I wish more bands would do this – play with the audience for a minute or too – almost prologue style.

Vocalist Steve Morris provides energy and feeling in his delivery. Matching the bands’ style perfectly, projecting lyrics in the way they are sung as much as in what they actually say. One of the stand out points of the band is their expressive drummer. Combining jazz and full rock styling, this undoubtedly adds to Econoline’s power as a live unit. I’m sure I saw her actually hitting the mike stands to give more flavour to the atmospheric mid set centrepiece! The band appear to enjoy the live setting – plenty of smiles on stage!

Stand out point is the single ‘Breakfast for Champions’. A gorgeous twangy guitar riff provides lifeblood for a tune that has apparently received Radio 1 evening airplay. So the evening ended with Econoline drawing out the last energy from their instruments. Comparisons to Doves spring to mind – in their emotional and passionate performance.

The evening was immensely enjoyable, and should have been by rights witnessed by more people. You have to go looking to find bands and artists this good – they won’t drop on your doormat.

Matty P.


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