Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kings of Convenience at the De La Warr Pavilion

Last week Ant and I went one of our rare midweek semi-spontaneous date nights, to go and see Kings of Convenience at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill. Unless you have seen the De La Warr, you may wonder why on earth any band would choose to perform in Bexhill of all places, but even before you step inside this striking Art Deco building, you start to appreciate the draw. Ever since its refurbishment in the early noughties, the De La Warr has been attracting illustrious artists from Goldfrapp to the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and is well worth the 45 minunte trip from Brighton.

Kings of Convenience may not be the most challenging of bands, but they win the prize in my eyes as the most soothing; their dulcet harmonies and expert intricate guitar playing are the musical equivalent of morphine. Way back when Ant and I were first living in Brighton we would often kick back with a glass of red and wind down from the trials of London commuting to their 2001 debut album, Quiet is the New Loud. It's up there with Ben & Jason's Emoticons (just available on Spotify by the way) as a sentimental classic of our 'early years' together.

It felt very special to finally see Kings of Convenience live and in such an atmospheric - and acoustically blessed - venue. The band were in good spirits all evening, playfully bantering between songs and telling us tales of their early days and first ever gig in East Sussex. With their permission I captured the above video snippet which - even though it is only recorded on a basic point and shoot - reveals something of their musical artistry. For the full experience, you will have to go and see them for yourselves.

The new Kings of Convenience album, Declaration of Dependence, was released in the UK this week.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Grab Your Glad Rags Honey, It's The Blind Tiger Club!

Brighton clubbing to many people means the garish seafront strip of venues populated by stag and hen parties and scantily clad teens. Fortunately for those of us to whom this scenario is tantamount to torture, we also have the likes of Born Bad, Da Doo Ron Ron, Dynamite Boogaloo, Vive La Fip, Carnivalesque and Balkaneasca to satisfy our boogie cravings. These are all fun nights, but rarely is there anything on the scale of last weekend's Blind Tiger Club - billed as a "backstreet speakeasy".

If the organisers had wanted it to be a truly clandestine event, they presumably wouldn't have advertised it on Facebook, but the idea was a laudable one all the same. The secret location turned out to be the old music library in the North Laine, an internally dilapidated 1920s building on three storeys, recently opened up for creative community events after years of standing disused. I was right at home in the prohibition era dress code - a vintage style for which flat chests and short hair are de rigeur. Being an "any excuse to dress up" kind of town, most people had also entered into the spirit, with an eye-pleasing array of trilby clad dapper gents and feathered up ladies strutting their stuff.

The faded grandeur of the venue gave the night a suitably speakeasy feel, although the (distinctly un-vintage) security staff and festival style outdoor portaloos did detract from the retro vibe slightly. The irrepressible pedant in me was irked to hear the odd burst of more recent (albeit 1950s) music, as if everything before 1960 should be banded together as "the music of yesteryear". On any other occasion I'd be the first to get up and jive, but in this context found it physically impossible to reconcile Rock n Roll with my flapper get-up. There was also no sign of the promised "live magic shows, cabaret, walkabout performance, grand piano and table service". But mild disappointments aside, I was in heaven - throwing myself around to a jolly selection of swing, jazz and big band and employing all sorts of half-remembered dodgy amdram moves.

Each of the three levels maintained a very distinct vibe throughout the night, with most of the action happening down in the wonderfully seedy basement, where all the more danceable bands were playing. Everyone piled down there for the much hyped Correspondents, but I was non-plussed about them and took the opportunity to enjoy the more easygoing atmosphere upstairs. It was there that I discovered The Roulettes, whose somewhat sinister take on the Puppini Sisters' swing-punk schtick made for entertaining listening indeed.

By 5am I was hoary-eyed and footsore, but still bouncing along as I toddled home - accompanied for part of the way by Matty Mo, who'd been working behind the bar. And the swell thing was that despite the excessive absinthe consumption, there was hardly a whiff of hangover the next day. Copacetic.

Photos from The Blind Tiger Club on Flickr.