The sun begins to shine and the courteous Fletch at Trof Fallowfield offers a free pint of Cider in wait of tonight’s gig. It’s a great start to a night of intrigue, as Let’s Buy Happiness (who I’ll refer to as LBH for the foreseeable to preserve my lazy digits) are a fresh new band with a wealth of great write ups in their locker already.
Manchester based support act Temple Songs open proceedings with aplomb. Their first song has an immediate impact with hooks and slacker rock energy galore. Drawing massively from Pavement et al, The Vines and Strange Boys, this four piece tick all the boxes on a teen’s lo-fidelity rock requirement list. Battling victoriously through vocal mic problems, Temple Songs show an unfathomable ability to deliver consistently catchy material. Although their overly busy drummer could rein it in a bit, and they are perhaps still in the process of developing their own uniquely identifiable sound, there is always a call for bands walking the Pavement line. Refreshing and energetic with crooked bags of potential.
Supporting LBH on their tour and next up tonight is Aaron Wright. Minus his usual backing band, as he “couldn’t afford to bring them”, I’m immediately delighted at his lack of affluence. Delivering a charming set with genuine sentiment, his simple one man and a guitar set up works perfectly in this petite environment. With Scottish twang to a confident yet understated vocal, Aaron Wright had the audience hooked with renditions of Go on Yerself and Kitchen Floor. Apologies to said backing band, but having listened to his full album afterwards, I much preferred the charm and directness of his songs when performed simply by the man himself.
I wonder how long it will be before LBH get sick of being described as “lovely”, “sweet” and above all “nice”? Having chatted with them before and after their performance, it is difficult to resist the temptation. They are an incredibly charming, endearing and unified five-piece with a real belief in their songs. This warmth rubs off on the small audience, giving us real grounds to invest all attentions on their live set.
It’s a nervy opening from the five-piece, perhaps slightly hampered by the exodus of a large portion of the crowd. This strangely keeps happening at gigs I attend in this city. Is it something I said Manchester?… Or is it a lack of support from audiences only interested in seeing the band they like and follow??? Either way, LBH look visibly phased by their negligible audience and a low-level sound set-up.
Despite their underwhelming venue, as consummate young pro’s with Glastonbury’s John Peel Stage, and a long touring schedule under their belt, the five-piece remain tight and focused with their songs. Sarah Hall’s angelic vocals sweep round the room, backed perfectly in the way only a sibling could, by brother and guitarist James Hall. Matched with her seamless ability to write engaging lyrics, her Björk -tinged vocals lift the band to another level, instantly placing them above lesser contemporaries.
Natural comparisons with the Cocteau Twins, The Sundays and perhaps even Kate Bush, have already, and will continue to be made with LBH’s sound. And rightfully so. Although Ian Browns vocal coach undoubtedly wishes it was, it certainly isn’t 1989 anymore. That said, the lo-fi, whimsical and catchy resemblance to eighties predecessors, allows the groups oeuvre to have a much greater appeal than your average Persil-advert-sound-tracking twee Indie band set-up.
In singles Fast Fast and Dirty Lakes, LBH exemplify the pop sensibility and song-craft needed to lift off in to the catchment space of a much larger audience. Unfortunately, tonight isn’t part of that meteoric rise. With a minimal crowd, the band showed an admirable professionalism, their tight set offered glimpses in to their massive live potential and their personable mid-song banter and friendliness before and after the gig highlighted their genuine charm. LBH just weren’t able to kick in to that fifth gear on this occasion, as much as you were willing them to.
With a sound that seems so perfectly matched alongside natural surroundings, a willing audience and a larger venue, LBH are surely destined to take off on said rise this summer, with festival season on the near horizon. If they continue to maintain a real care for their craft, and they get the time to develop their natural ability to create a unified sound, this young five-piece from Newcastle can scale much dizzier heights than the upstairs of Trof Fallowfield offered them tonight.