It’s been a few years since I’d last seen Little Barrie, and their recent tour was one I had been waiting for for some time.
I’d last seen them at The New Untouchables Bank Holiday Mod weekender in 2007- so that makes it nearly FOUR years!- after being introduced to them by my gig buddy Claire, and seeing them earlier the same year shortly after the release of their second album, the excellent “Stand Your Ground”.
It hasn’t been a quiet four years for ‘Little’ Barry Cadogan, he has been playing guitar with the likes of Edwyn Collins and Paul Weller, whilst also being long time replacement for ‘Throb’ Young on guitar for Primal Scream- indeed, I have seen Barry Cadogan 3 times in ‘The Scream’ since the last Little Barrie gig. They have also being playing low key pub gigs in and around Camden- some free I believe, meh, here’s a request for one slightly later train home from London…
The band’s next album- ‘King Of The Waves’ is out in this country later this month, although it has been toured and released in Japan already, where they have a good following. It has been preceded over here by a single, ‘Surf Hell’ in a quality heavy vinyl 7″ pressing- joy!
To the gig. This particular Sunday brings as a grey, wet and miserable ‘summers’ evening, which is a shame, because by the time you’ve entered the function room upstairs at The Albert, you’d wished some lighter summer clothing could have been worn to the venue- it’s hot and it’s going to get hotter!
The support for tonight comes from Portsmouth based ‘The Good Time Charlies‘, a four piece who provide us with no nonsense Garage Punk/Rock- not much talk between tracks, Buzzcocks stylee- bass and drums hit hard, a few complaints from the guitarist aimed at his ‘axe’-more of that later- and self penned material all very enjoyable, finishing with a surf-y instrumental. I’ll see these again.
Seeing LB drummer Virgil Howe before setting up, I share my appreciation of the first band, and ask him if he’ll be hitting the skins as hard as the previous drummer-‘I’ll try’ sez he.
The room is getting busier, which is good, as I’d foolishly thought it might be quite quiet being on a Sunday, LB not releasing much or touring for four years and Brighton crowds generally being quite ‘difficult’ at times. It must have been close to selling out.
A quip by Virgil on the ubiquitous Twitter, that some crowds have been hard to get going on the tour, found me right at the front, and ready to ‘get going’ from the off- and it really was instant, starting as they did with new single ‘Surf Hell’- BANG! And boogie I did! It was hard not too really, they sounded BIG, the drums were intended to move you the Bass snaked around with familiar riffs- ‘Surf Hell’ had been lodged in my head for weeks, and I often found myself humming the Bassline (just done it again now, as it happens!) at work.
And Barrie’s guitar playing is exquisite- it’s no fluke he’s been asked to perform with other great musicians and recently in Manchester, at a The Smiths tribute, it was he who Mani had asked to perform Johnny Marr’s role. He ‘rocks’ with his guitar like the best, it is so ‘him’ he almost looks incomplete without one, he favours Gibson- and they look good together. One thing I’ve learned recently though, following on from The Moons last month and The Good Time Charlies earlier, is that guitars don’t seem to like hot sweaty conditions. It [apparently] kept going out of tune, and regularly needed re-tuning and whilst switching to another guitar, the other was collected by the sound engineer to be re-tuned ‘out back’. I couldn’t tell the difference…
The set comprised largely of new material, with a few ‘oldies’ thrown in- ‘Burned Out’ from the first album, ‘We Are Little Barrie’ being a groovy laid back blues-y affair, ‘Pin That Badge’, with it’s signature opening guitar riff, being an instant favourite- recognisable as well as being one of those tunes that used to crop up on football highlights shows.
Another ‘victim’ of the heat was Barry’s mic stand, as it kept sliding down, leading Barry to joke that he had got Prince’s mic stand by mistake- fitting I thought, as during Stand Your Ground’s ‘Why Don’t You Do It’, Barry used some very Prince style guitar stabs. I’d also say that Prince is the only guitarist I’ve seen who betters Barry- that’s a very high compliment from me.
Virgil Howe’s drumming is another delight. Being a recent addition to the band, Virgil’s ‘other’ band is funk and soul band ‘The Killer Meters‘, who started out by covering The Meters material, and in some cases improving on the originals, so it is no surprise that Virgil is tight and funky. Shirt undone due to the heat, looking like a Percussive Conquistador, Virgil hammers them skins, his flourishes are at times steeped in humour- imagine Noel Coward if he had a drummer!
Bassist Lewis Wharton is Entwistle-like in his on stage energy- he leaves his Bass to do the talking, and a downright dirty, funky sound is what is being poured from these speakers.
The rest of the hour and a bit long set is filled with new material, so I don’t know track titles, but I can report that it will be a cracking album and a ‘must buy’. The sound is alot ‘fatter’ than the previous albums, and the onstage energy delivered such a joyous noise, I didn’t stop moving, despite the cameraman at my feet ‘snapping’ Barry- he may have a few, unintentional, bruises…
Like The Moons, the play of an encore was scrapped, and to finish the show they played another off the second album- the monumental ‘Love You’. Sweaty, they them left the stage, the understated Lewis saying to me as he passed that we were the best crowd of the tour, and I think he meant it.
Buy their albums and see this band. King Of The Waves is released on 27/6/2011.