Monday, September 17, 2007

Left With Pictures

One of the main things that I hope I took away with me from the End of The Road festival this year was an appreciation of the fact that my days of carefully structuring and regimenting my time around particular events are behind me. I think I'm more relaxed than I was a few years ago, happier to just take things in my stride, and the festival was a good reminder of that. Although there were several bands I planned to see this weekend, as often as not I missed them, usually because I was somewhere else, or just happy sitting outside my tent with a book. The sense that I had to extract maximum value from the festival just went absent, and I wandered round, happy, content with the fact that I didn't know what was round each corner.

As a consequence, some of the best stuff I saw was stuff I didn't expect to see, or had never even heard of. On Sunday afternoon, still sleepy after an indulgent nap, I bought a pint of Butts Barbus from the Bimble Inn, and wandered around to the local stage, where I had heard The Twilight Sad would later be playing an extra show. When I arrived, however, and sat on the extraordinarily soft, fine grass inside the tent, I watched another band taking the stage, and becoming increasingly weary with the time it was taking to set up. Eventually, with the drums still under construction, the lead singer, a tall, slim chap with a white shirt and a narrow tie, picked up his guitar, stepped off the stage, announced his intention to start playing without any amplification, and introduced the band.

Left With Pictures, it turns out, earned their place on the End Of The Road bill by virtue of winning last year's 'Folk Idol', a tongue-in-cheek version of Pop Idol run by the Local (which, when not putting on bands at festivals, functions as a club and music promoter in North London), wherein contestants are required to don false beards and play two folk classics, before the audience decides the winner. It's little wonder that the band cleaned up last year, as their music, whether performed acoustically in front of the stage or amplified on it (the band took up their places once the drum kit was assembled) is wistful, diaphenous and enchanting. Classically trained (not that I care about that) the band's delicate arrangements and soft harmonies recall the likes of Steely Dan, Field Music, My Life Story and Richard Thompson, whose lovely '1952 Vincent Black Lightning' they closed with, having once more clambered from the stage and performed with quiet precision amongst us.

Sharing vocals and creating subtle arrangements awash with violin, melodica and keys, Left With Pictures's fragile but unpretentious pop belies their confidence. "There are two songs to go", their singer tells us at one point, before adding, correctly, "and they're real fucking beauties".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! Left With Pictures were wonderful at TEoTR.