Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Field of their own


"We'll be playing for about half an hour. You're missing 'Extras' for this. "We" being The Keys - not the American swamp-blues-revivalist duo (that'd be The Black Keys) but the psychedelic-garage-revivalist fourpiece from the Valleys. One of them used to be in Murry The Hump and they've put out a single on Too Pure, you know.

On occasions it's difficult to see quite what Too Pure heard in them - those occasions, such as the song I presume from its mantra-like chorus is called 'Eyes Of The World' - because they come across as a lethargic Oasis covers band. But at their best, they're like Spiritualized or The Brian Jonestown Massacre covering The Kinks - in other words, quite a prospect. 'Bad Dreams' (which you can download here) brings the set to a particularly satisfying conclusion.

Like 'Extras', then - a bit inconsistent. But, unlike 'Extras', more good than bad.

Field Music were responsible for one of my favourite albums of last year, but they and their self-titled debut remain criminally underappreciated. One suspects that they're sick of reading about their "connections" - for the record, Peter Brewis used to drum for The Futureheads, whose Barry Hyde was once a member, while Maximo Park's Tom English has also filled in on drumming duties on occasion - because they're very much their own band.

Rather than limiting themselves to the jerky, juddery post-punk palette, as their North-Eastern associates tend to, Field Music use those same colours in a more creative way, painting prettier, poppier pictures.

Tonight the core trio of Peter Brewis and his brother David, who switch between guitars and drums, plus keyboard player Andrew Moore begin with four unfamiliar songs on the bounce, all presumably taken from new album Tones On The Town which is due for release in January. While recognisably Field Music tracks, they don't seem to have the same lushness and sparkle in the eye - but then that's quite possibly owing to their unfamiliarity.

(Incidentally, is it just me who feels a little guilty at that rush of relief that comes when a band plays something you know? After all, a good live set isn't necessarily one which is stuffed full of crowd-pleasers - why shouldn't bands try out new or different things?)

When the old material does come, the likes of 'If Only The Moon Were Up', 'Shorter Shorter' and set-closer 'You're So Pretty' are welcomed enthusiastically by those of us who've heard it - but there remains a nagging feeling that live the songs don't quite match up to their recorded counterparts, a sense that - as good as it is - they can't quite do justice to the melodic, clever and artful pop of their debut.

It doesn't help that new single 'In Context' has to be aborted when the bass decides not to work, but no matter, the band seem to be enjoying themselves anyway, all smiles when performing an impromptu rendition of 'Happy Birthday' Brian May style on request, and claiming Clwb is the best venue of the tour so far because "we've got towels".

It's a travesty that a band of their originality should be grateful for the supply of such mundane things as towels, but unfortunately that's the situation in which they currently find themselves. This live performance may not have been wholly convincing, but hopefully the new album will help to get them the popular acclaim they deserve.


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