A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The High Llamas, Arnold's, 03/12/10

The High Llamas played their annual London show last Friday at a new venue near Fleet Street called Arnold’s.

It is a relatively small, downstairs venue with seating at the back and a large standing area by the bar. The stage was in the far corner but was quite small, which looked a bit odd. It is always good to have new small venues in London however (especially after the terrible news that the Luminaire is going to close) and my initial impressions were quite positive. However, during the High Llamas’ set it became obvious that the layout was encouraging people to talk in the seats/at the bar and at times this really impacted on the sound. There were also quite a few instances of people taking ridiculous amounts of photographs/videos during the set which forced me to move position twice. Grrrr….The venue reminded me in some ways of the Spitz (another excellent London live music venue which was forced to close a few years ago).

Anyway, on a more positive note it was the fifth time I was seeing The High Llamas after previous gigs at Dingwalls (2000), the Whitechapel Art Gallery (2007) and the Luminaire (2008 & 2009). I later learned that they had played a show at the Hayward Gallery in 2006. Can’t understand how I missed that one…

Overall, it was a good show. They played a few of my personal favourites (specifically ‘Harper’s Romo’, ‘Triads’ and ‘Three Point Scrabble’) and also played material from most of their albums. As usual tracks from ‘Snowbug’ dominated the set. We didn’t get any tracks from the forthcoming new album (which I was expecting).

I left feeling that it was a slightly unadventurous gig in some ways, largely I think due to the fact that I had heard every song played tonight during a previous show. The set list was almost identical to the shows I saw them play at the Luminaire over the recent years, although it was still a very enjoyable gig.

They played a single track from both ‘Hawaii’ and ‘Gideon Gaye’ and while the songs are undoubted High Llamas classics (‘Nomads’ and ‘Track Goes By’) I sometimes feel it would be nice to hear some others from those brilliant albums. One day I may even get to hear ‘Dressing Up The Old Dakota’ live. ‘Doo-Wop Property’ was also cut from the set, sadly. Before the gig I had posted on the High Llamas web forum asking if the band would be interested in performing any of their albums in full live (as made popular by the excellent All Tomorrow’s Parties organisation). No reply as yet…

One memorable moment from tonight however was when Laetitia Sadier from Stereolab joined the band onstage to sing a lovely version of ‘Cookie Bay’. She looks so different now to what I remember…

The set list was as follows:

Bach Ze
Harper’s Romo
Glide Time
Leaf And Lime
Three Point Scrabble
Go To Montecito
Old Spring Town
Cookie Bay
Cove Cutter
Rotary Hop
Track Goes By

Janet Jangle
Sun Beats Down

During the gig Sean mentioned how they hope to play more shows in 2011 in support of the new album and that is excellent news. There is no question that I would still go to see them play whenever they are in London. Maybe it was my excessive High Llamas iPod listening beforehand that contributed to the feeling of over-familiarity. I really must re-instate the rule of not listening to a band on my iPod when I am due to see them play live in the evening…

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