Sunday, November 01, 2009

wave pictures at the garage, islington

Although my birthday was a month ago, I had a lovely second pass at being spoiled this weekend, when Anne-So and Rich took me not only for a delicious curry in London but also to see the final date on the Wave Pictures current Uk tour, at the Garage in Islington.

Of course, it's as ridiculous to talk of touring schedules with the Wave Pics as it is to talk of album release cycles. Since I first stumbled, delighted, upon them at the End Of The Road three years ago, it's been apparent that - seemingly contrary to the instincts of many of their contemporaries - they do most what they love most; writing and playing. So there have been two conventional albums in quick session plus a bunch of singles and EPs and then a slew of hastily recorded 'unofficial' LPs, often recorded with a cast of like-minded accomplices which includes the Berlin-based Andre Hermann Dune (now known as Stanley Brinks) and Clemence Freschard, both of whom appear with the band tonight in what seems to be a genuine and touching display of open collaboration.

In case you're not quite up to speed, here's a quick précis. The Wave Pictures are like no other band on earth - drawing on a set of influences which includes Sam Cooke, Jonathan Richman and early Dire Straits (and frequently sounding like a neat combination of all three) the band simultaneously straddle a relaxed, unfussy approach which yields thin, scruffy takes, shorn of overdubs, and a quite spectacular level of musicianship - David Tattersall's guitar playing is instinctive, spare and quite dazzling when he lets loose. Aesthetically, they couldn't be more comfortable in their own skin, transparently loving every minute of what they do. Just as notes come easy, Tattersall's yearning, kitchen-sink lyrics sound wonderfully unforced - and are similarly wonderful.

London clearly has a loyal Wave Pics fanbase, and whereas the last time I saw the band - in a sweaty basement in Brighton - they played a short, fast, exposive set, this weekend they played a longer and more varied, more celebratory collection of songs. The results were spellbinding.

The problem with amassing such a comprehensive and assured back catalogue in a very short period of time is that it's impossible to play everything, meaning that once again there is no room for classics like 'Long Island' or the beautiful 'If You Leave It Alone'; but we're amply rewarded with some absolute treats - a star turn on lead vocals (and a drum solo) from Jonny, some wonderful, mellow saxophone playing by Stanley Brinks, and a smattering of new songs, including a gorgeous one from Tattersall's new CD, sung sweetly by the exceedingly European Freschard:

"I saw your hair between the trees, I saw your hair
In the sunlight on the leaves, I saw you there
I saw the curve of your lips, I saw blue skies
I saw chipped toenails in the twigs, and your blue eyes".

Best of all was the song, presented above, which they played the one time I turned my camera on and trained it on the stage - a delicious, communal acapella take on 'Strawberry Cables', which saw Tattersall eke out exquisite melodies from the call and response harmonies of the original version. The crowd clapped and swooned at every turn - a crowd reacting joyfully to a band immersed in love for their craft, and preocuppied, as Tattersall's charming, reflective lyrics attest, with love itself.

Thanks thanks thanks to AS and Rich for a wonderful night. Hope the rest of you enjoy the video.


annsaphone said...

glad you enjoyed it Jonathan! xxx

Dan said...

Good clip! Your sound?

Jonathan said...

That's just the audio from the camera (routed through Audacity). Unfortunately the MD player crashed while it was writing the files, so I lost my recording of the set. Aaargh.