Field Music - Electric Ballroom - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Field Music - Electric Ballroom

by Priscilla Eyles Rating: Release Date:

Supporting Field Music are an interesting Welsh duo called Golden Fable, comprising of Tim McIver and Rebecca Palin, formerly of cult band Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band. They play a beguiling mix of acoustic, electronica and rock-pop off their debut album, Star Map.

Singer and keyboardist Palin sounds very much like Liz Fraser from Cocteau Twins, her pure and clear soprano vocals making for nice listening, particularly when she's harmonising with McIver. They also do a very nice acoustic, folkified cover of Manic Street Preachers' Motorcycle Emptiness' which they make their own.

Field Music start proceedings off appropriately enough with 'Start the Day Right' from their latest album, Plumb, segueing rather neatly and seamlessly, and following album order, into 'It's Okay to Change' and 'Sorry, Again Mate'. Mention must be made of Kev Dosdale on guitars and synth, and Andrew Lowther on bass who handle the quirky complexity and quick changes of the music with aplomb and have great interplay with the Brewis brothers.They make these quick transitions, replicated from their albums, at numerous points with a slickness which is only slightly halted by Peter Brewis having to count them off; which is only fair enough considering the tricky switches in tempo that make Field Music so, well, Field Musicy.

Throughout they manage to recreate both Plumb and Measure exceedingly well, with little adjustments here and there so it's not just a slavish recitation of their albums. One example is the added distortion on brilliant single 'A New Town' which makes for a rocked-up version you can't help but dance to, and some extra time for some guitar soloing all round.

This first Plumb medley section of the gig, however, doesn't quite get me going, filled as it is with their more pastichey proggy/McCartney-esque songs. I much prefer their more danceable funk/indie/post-punk, XTC/Talking Heads-style songs, such as the aforementioned 'A New Town'. So it is not till they start playing 'Rockist Part 4 'off School of Language (making me want to check out that album further, only really getting into the band through their last two albums) that things really start going and I get into the gig.

This song also showcases the band's superb sense of rhythm and knack for a supremely catchy guitar riff or chord sequence. Peter's vocals on this track are sweet and heartfelt, singing as if serenading a lover (and indeed if anyone could sing "There is only you" as sweetly as he does then they'd be halfway there).

Other highlights are the sublime 80s Bowie/Prince funk swagger of Measure's 'Let's Write a Book', which also showcased Peter's great falsetto (certainly not something anyone can pull off) and David's awesome precision drumming and percussive work (and when the brothers swap places after this song, their great musicality is clear; both are equally brilliant at drums, keyboards and guitar). A great rendition of side-project The Week That Was' 'Scratch the Surface', with its pounding rhythm and great guitar licks, also makes me want to investigate this part of their back catalogue.

The brothers themselves clearly enjoy every moment and are charming, self-effacing, and humorous. Peter, at one point when playing another song off Measure, wryly comments: "There are so many tracks, you can't avoid it", and allows a boisterous heckler who calls out "Measure!" at frequent intervals to introduce the song.

One thing's for sure, even if I don't like all that they do, this band is never boring, and if the Guardian interview is to be believed, they make hardly any money but do it for the sheer love of producing challenging and interesting music. So hats off to them - this band deserves all the support they can get and with their Mercury Music Prize nomination, hopefully they'll get it.

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