Friday, March 07, 2008

Songs To Learn And Sing

The School/Somebody's Mind/The Screenbeats, Oakford Social Club, Reading, Saturday March 1 2008, 8.30pm.

Your carousing correspondent has visited Oakford Social Club before, but this is the first time, in the company of Raimundo, that we've seen bands here. It's an unusual set-up, in that rather than playing in upstairs or downstairs areas, the groups play on a bandstand centre-pub with general drinking/eating areas either side. With this being a free gig, the benefits to the bands are that they have the incentive of drawing in passing punters who've just popped in for a pint.

You couldn't blame Newbury's The Screenbeats for wanting to partake in some alcoholic sustenance themselves, given the technical glitches that bedevil and foreshorten their set. Vocalist Faye has a fashionably big, bold voice which drives forward songs of a definite 60s-leaning sound and we certainly heard enough to make us want to re-investigate them at a happier time. Tilehill's Somebody's Mind also owe something of a debt to the 60s, but their psychedelic rock takes us on a much wilder ride, albeit with a sound sense of melody intact. Raimundo definitely approves.

Without wishing to sound like Teacher's Pet, however, we're only really here for The School, who, despite being a guitarist down due to transport snafus, chalk up another brief but successful showcase for their spangly pop gems. In contrast to their Autumn Store show last November, Liz is centre-stage where she should be, but also the whole band seem to be operating with an extra sheen of polish and confidence despite the unplanned axeman absence.

Although their songs have an undeniable 60s girl-group feel it's not just nostalgia that's at the heart of The School's appeal. Tracks like Summer's Here and All I Wanna Do have the delicious soft, sweet texture but added zing and sharpness of the perfect lemon mousse, with the robust quality of the songcraft providing the biscuit base, the structure that holds everything together and prevents what otherwise could be a gooey mess in less expert hands. Like the Oliver we are, we cry for more, but for now we must settle for this tantalising aperatif before we receive our just desserts of record releases and a full tour in the spring and summer. But we do get a quick chat with Liz herself, and co-organiser Dawn, who are as glamorous, friendly, and downright lovely as you could wish for, before the Newcastle Browns finally kick in for your tipsy tipster and hometime beckons.

Also, thanks to Painterman DJs for spinning the discs between bands, and Sam Dinsmore for taking some great gig photos.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic review!!!
cheers, Lollipop

11:01 AM  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Gracias Lollipop!

10:50 AM  

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