Monday, April 09, 2007

That Obscura Object Of Desire

Camera Obscura/Ned Collette, Glee Club, Birmingham, Tuesday April 3 2007.

It's been a while since last at the Glee Club for a gig, and it's not long before your correspondent remembers why, as the mellifluous tones of the PA advise us to switch off our mobile phones, get our drinks before the performance starts, and, oh, if we want to talk at any time during performance could we take it outside into the corridors please? Further instructions to goosestep out of the auditorium and be sure to listen to nothing but Norah Jones when we get back to our pads is surely just around the corner.

Still, obedient sorts us indie tykes are, Australian troubadour Ned Collette is greeted with a reverent hush that would be classed as exclusion or bullying if it happened on a reality TV set. Ned seems a confident lad, however, and just gets on with the business of crooning away to the accompaniment of pre-recorded guitar loops in addition to his own real-time strumming. He's not without talent or charm, but the effect is pleasing and soothing rather than energising so he's a strange choice of aperitif for our headlining scamps.

The PA wakes us up again, however, by announcing that the bar will close before the main performance starts, only to retract this a few minutes later at the special request of the band themselves. 'We're Scottish, after all,' Tracyanne Campbell reminds us, which is a fair point, and their timely intervention represents a small victory against supperclub fascism but an important one nonetheless.

Last time we saw Camera Obscura they'd pitched up at last year's Summer Sundae minus their instruments (still held at Copenhagen airport) leaving them to improvise with gear loaned from the local Leicester music shop. So this time they appear a little less flustered and give us a full set, including a rendition of the title track from last record (and, lest we forget, PV's 2nd favourite album of 2006) 'Let's Get Out Of This Country', which they missed out doing at SS.

The main difference between the recorded version of Camera Obscura and the live experience is Tracyanne lets her natural accent out more, swallowing the ends of each lyrical phrases with Scottish inflection. The result is a little Dylanesque, a little bit rock'n'roll, and, let's be frank, reader, a massive dollop of sexy. Highlights include a rattling run-through of 'If Looks Could Kill', the always adorable 'Suspended From Class' and set closer 'Razzle Dazzle Rose' which succeeds in enchanting despite some consternation amongst the band when it's announced 'the drums are broken'.

Encores include a cover of 'Super Trouper' (which features on the b-side on the 7" of upcoming single 'Tears For Affairs', flipside fact fans) and, appropriately enough in the circumstances, 'I Need All The Friends I Can Get', for which Ned Collette and the audience themselves supply complex clapped percussion to compensate for the drumming vacuum. This is apparently Camera Obscura's very first gig in Birmingham, so let's hope the warm reception from the crowd means this particular venue's draconian set-up will not stop them coming back to the Black Country.



Blogger Ben said...

When the band concerned are quiet, or depend on silence, then clinking glasses, ringing mobiles and particularly chattering fuckwits can really piss me off. Even still, that does sound a bit draconian! Never went to a gig there, and I'm quite glad of it.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Ben, I accept there are certain acts, at certain venues, where it would be reasonable to expect some hush as respect to artist and audience alike. But this is a blanket approach adopted by The Glee Club, and wasn't appropriate to a six-piece indie band in the bigger hall where my good friend General Hubbub should be welcomed with open arms.

What happens is without fail the artists get anxious and ask why the audience is so quiet. This must be particularly un-nerving for support acts who no doubt feel they're dying on their feet when in fact the crowd are just too plain scared to speak. So something no doubt put in place with best intentions towards the artist actually does them a disservice because few acts can really be seen at their best playing to an inhibited crowd.

That said Glee Club is certainly attracting some talent in the coming months - including Rickie Lee Jones; Au Revoir Simone and a solo set by Emily Haines - so your correspondent will be gracing the venue again (I'll just have to leave General Hubbub back at Telford, where he'll no doubt rack up a huge phone bill to feed his chatline addiction).

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Russ L said...

'Back to' the Black Country?

That seems like a bizarre thing to say after a gig in Birmingham.

If you're confusing the two it's probably best not to tell me. You know how upset I get.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Aw Russ, chill out man, you're stifling my creativity with your historical/geographical pedantry! Tommy Pynchon never has this problem!

Relax, dude, burn those suede shoulder patches for good and surrender to the Parallax View of a society beyond borders where we all live in one big country. We called it the Black Country because Black's our favourite colour (nervously awaits scientific pedant pointing out that black isn't a colour but an absence of light, or somesuch nonsense).

Deep down though, Russ, I know you're just showing off that you read to the very last sentence of the very last paragraph of my review. Unless, of course, you skipped to the end looking for a gag (cunningly excised in favour of a *cough* deliberate mistake).

PS. Capdown are still shit so ner ner ner ner ner :P

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Russ L said...

It's not pedantry (although there's nothing wrong with pedantry). I'm just trying to live righteous.

That's not something people who aren't from the Black Country can ever understand, but trust me. Brummies are not Yam-yams. Birmingham - while great - is not part of the hallowed borders.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Phill said...

The Black Country is more of a state of mind than an actual physical border...

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Russ L said...

There's some truth in that, but even as a state of mind it doesn't include Birmingham. Oh no no no.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Birmingham is most certainly not in the Black Country. Sandwell and Dudley , Bilston and the southern Walsall towns of Darlaston and Bloxwich are all in the Black Country. The city of Wolverhampton is not in the Black Country. It's about time people understood where the Black Country lies.

9:11 PM  

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