Posted in SHOFT on Tuesday 26th October 2010 at 11:54pm
What if you threw a party, but no-one came? Sadly this became an all too real experience for the promoter of tonight's gig at the Fleece. I should have suspected there was going to be a low turn-out when I appeared at the door a few minutes before the official door time clutching my pre-booked ticket. A chap broke off from the group discussing when to open and said "Ah! You're the bloke who bought a ticket!". We discussed Bristol's fickle scene, Glasgow and the frankly crappy weather today before he let me in to the venue. Nothing has changed here since my last visit - still the same dark, cavernous and sticky-tabled spot on the edge of the city centre. A great place to see bands on the ascent - or sadly sometimes turning the curve at the other side. A range of posters above the bar bears testament to the now-giant bands who have passed through the doors, and probably had nights not dissimilar to this one.
So, with a couple more punters through the door proceedings started with Boolfight from Paris. They appear to be a fairly established act, an album and a few EPs into their career, who ply a strange sort of synth-based indie-rock. They were certainly very loud, and got strangely louder as their brief set progressed, until I realised to my amusement that the bass was tickling my nostrils! Not an experience I've had before. To be honest, this wasn't for me. There was a slick, very European feel to the rather long and repetitive songs. However, these guys can certainly play technically well, and they deserve a huge amount of credit from throwing everything into their set despite the poor showing out front. I got the sense they're really sincere about their work, and while it wasn't my cup of tea I can see it would have gone down well with the strong following for more traditional 'rock' in Bristol, had people taken the chance on the band.
When I saw that Three Blind Wolves had been added to tonight's bill my first thoughts were of Ross Clark singing in a stream on Detour's recent 'Wee Jaunt'. If he could pull that off, then a big empty room in Bristol surely presented no problems? And it certainly didn't as Ross' massive stage personality shone through despite the strange situation and muddy sound. He gyrated and gurned his way through a set taken from their mini-album "The Sound of the Storm" and recent self-released single "Echo On The Night Train". Having heard some of this material on record, it was great to hear it's sometimes complicated twists and turns produced live, with sudden bursts of country turning effortlessly into full-on searing blasts of guitar. Alongside Ross' exertions, the band cut steady and proficient figures - and made a sound much bigger than the four people on stage should have been able to. The small audience, predominantly now made up of the other bands, seemed to have a good time too - and it would be fantastic to see this bunch interacting with a bigger and more responsive audience.
So to Kid Canaveral - a band whose membership seems to span Scotland in origins, effectively linking the Glasgow network to the coast at St.Andrews with all the potential for amazing musical collisions which that suggests. I confess that following eagerly snapping up their EPs as they arrived, I had a bit of difficulty with the recent album "Shouting at Wildlife", which I loved as a set of individual songs - but rarely seemed to sit through as an album. The great thing of course is that you can do this with Kid Canaveral - each song is a little universe of it's own, and I'd often find myself obsessing over particular tracks which I just couldn't help listening to over and over. Luckily for me, following a rip through single 'Good Morning', my current obsessive listen 'Left and Right' turned up which meant that at least one member of the tiny audience was beaming like an idiot for the rest of the set. I can't explain my love for this uncomplicated song - it just makes me grin like a twat! Next came a cover - but not just any cover - this was 'Missionary' by the mighty King Creosote. This brave choice was pulled off with the song's plaintive ache intact despite the change in tempo and sound. The short set concluded with a few more tracks from "Shouting at Wildlife", notably 'You Only Went Out to Get Drunk Last Night' where the benefit of having three accomplished vocalists in the band was evident. It obviously hadn't been a great night for the band - but they played a fine set, and sent me straight back to listen to the album on my journey home which is always a good sign. I just wish that Bristol could have been a bit more encouraging.
Looking back I'm proud I snapped up my pre-booked ticket the moment this gig was announced. Of course there was never any doubt I'd be out to see a band which had bothered to make the trek down from my beloved Scotland to play here - few do, and I can now see why. I had the opportunity to thank the equally bewildered promoter before I left tonight - and like he said, it's important that bands keep getting the opportunity to play here despite nights like this. I'd love to have offered a word of encouragement to the bands too, for bothering to come down - but they were busy and I was running for the train back home. If you read this, thanks folks - I had fun and I'm just sorry people missed a chance to have a wet Tuesday night in Bristol brightened up immeasurably.
I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.
I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.