A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Jonny, Water Rats, 19/01/11

I made a rare visit to Water Rats in Kings Cross last week to see Jonny, the new project featuring Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub and Euros Childs formerly of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. The prospect of seeing two of my favourite music people on stage together was quite exciting...

Support came from Baltimore indie rock duo Wye Oak who played a very good short set which recalled some of the noisier moments of Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth.

Despite featuring additional members on the album tonight Jonny were just Euros on guitar/keyboards/drum machine/vocals & Norman on guitar/laptop/vocals. Euros began by introducing the band ("We are Jonny, err, without the H"). They started with 'Bread', very much a Euros Childs composition, being quite similar in style to a lot of his recent solo material (the show generally confirmed my prior belief that Jonny was a project largely led by Euros). They opted to play 'Candyfloss' early in the set. It is a brilliant, catchy song which combines their respective melodic, harmonic and lyrical talents and I would encourage you to watch the video by clicking here. They also played the album opener, 'Wich Is Wich'.

Other tracks which stood out were 'Waiting For You', which was quite old-school rock'n'roll in sound and the pretty 'I Want To Be Around You'. After listening to them on the album I found them both surprisingly Beatlesy. 'Cave Dance' was another highlight, a stomping, high tempo track which almost strays into glam-rock territory before it closes with an noisy, instrumental keyboard ending. Again, the recorded version sounds even stronger. 'The Goodnight' and 'English Lady' sounded like late period Gorky's, quite folky and melancholic, especially the latter. 'I'll Make Her My Best Friend' had a strong country feel, and ended with a nice guitar sign-off from Norman. They also played 'Gloria' and 'Michaelangelo' from the free EP.

Coming back on for the encore Norman announced they would play one of his songs, one of Euros' songs and a cover. They proceeded to play a lovely acoustic version of 'I Don't Want Control Of You' (seeing Euros provide backing vocals on a Teenage Fanclub song was a real highlight of the night). They followed this with a version of 'Ursula's Crow', a song which doesn't feature on the album but is something they have played together before. They finished with an a capella version of 'Sky Man' by Geoff Goddard.

It was pretty clear that tonight was the first gig of the tour. There were a few nerves on show and the sound was a little rough around the edges. However, the collective goodwill of the crowd seemed to carry them through, ensuring the gig was a success despite some errant drum machines, occasional problems tuning guitars and misplaced lyrics. I'm sure the shows will become more polished the longer the tour goes on.

After the show I bought a copy of the album  from Euros in the bar area (two weeks before it is released). I was hoping to be able to have a little chat, and possibly ask him if he has any plans to release 'Spin That Girl Around' (a brilliant song he has played at his solo shows but up to now has not recorded). You can see a video of him playing this at the Roundhouse here whilst supporting Yo La Tengo, (a show that I was at). Sadly I didn't get a chance to talk as people scrambled around to pick up a copy of the CD and catch a few seconds with Euros. In the end all I did was thank him for a great show. The Jonny album is very good, a lot stronger than the live show and I fully recommend it to you.

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