This was something of a triumphant return, probably the biggest crowd the band has played to for a while. Room 2 holds a couple of hundred and ANI almost filled it.
The occasion was the launch for new album ‘Lost and Later Songs’, a sprawling 20 track opus which covers a huge amount of ground both musically and lyrically. The usual lineup of Biff Smith (guitar/vocals), Caroline Evens(keyboards/fiddle), Craig Laurie (drums), Stephen McGourty (bass) and Mark McSwiggan (lead guitar) were joined by Dr Lopez on keyboards and, at least some of the time, by a two man brass section.
Together they make a pretty impressive noise, aiding and abetting Biff’s dramatic and passionate delivery, as well as his between-song quips. The 19-song set is a mixture of tracks from the new record, a couple from the ‘Dark Carnival’ show soundtrack and a brace from first album ‘Welcome to the Fabulon’. The mixture of indiepop, torch song, European chanson and Spanish-tinged melodies offers a pretty unique take on music, and with Biff and the band in full flow it doesn’t really get much better.
There are few people who would even attempt an Associates cover, but Biff launches into ‘Those First Impressions’ as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, and my goodness he did it, and its writer, justice.
There was a full audience singalong to ‘Bleed’, plus a majestical run through the Brel classic ‘Jackie’, a brief ‘Circus Girls’, then they were gone. Highly recommended.