Other Lives

Visualise the upstairs function room in a Middelsbrough WM Club which has seen better days. Limited choice at the bar, limited seating, low false ceiling with a tiny stage at one end. Holds a couple of hundred people. This one, the Westgarth (and the website doesn’t quite paint an accurate picture), is trying to invent itself as “Middlesbrough’s Best Music Venue” – which frankly is hardly a lofty ambition. It is the regular home for local promoters “The Kids Are Solid Gold”.

Nonetheless we have seen some great gigs there, most noticeable Stornaway and Cattle & Cane, and we will be back for The Southmartins on Friday.

Last night was exceptional however with three acts, Weird Shapes, Washington Irvine and lastly Other Lives.

The former were a bit intense for my taste but Washington Irvine were great, despite a poorly vocalist. The headline act were, however, phenomenal, which I why I’ve bothered with this post. First of all it was staggering that they were able to get all the instrumentation on the tiny performance area. They are all multi-instrumentalists, this including brass, strings and keyboards over and above all the usual. Beyond that the instrument switching, often mid-song, in such a minuscule space, was a performance of its own.

The music itself was as described above, to which the recorded version does no justice. I am not good at sonic description but anyone, like me, delighted to live in a post Fleet Foxes world will love them – the comparisons to Arcade Fire are way off target.

They are in Leeds, Nottingham and Manchester, this week, before leaving these shores. If you have the chance, do not miss them, I doubt they will be playing venues of this size for long.

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