The Leisure Society, Erland and the Carnival @ Glee Club, Birmingham 23/11/2009

November 25, 2009 by  

LeisureSocietyPress2CreditPaulHeatfield(med)

The Leisure Society played Birmingham’s Glee Club as part of their October/November tour in support of their much-endorsed debut album, ‘The Sleeper’. The band is made up of fine musical stock, and with an Ivor Novello nomination behind them for their debut single, ‘The Last of the Melting Snow’ it wouldn’t be wrong to expect big things. The Glee Club was the perfect setting for their set; intimate and bathed in candlelight.

The stage was made toasty-warm by Simon Tong’s latest collaboration, ‘Erland and the Carnival’. An unexpected joy, they introduced us to their debut single, ‘Was You Ever See’ as well as performing some unique renditions of traditional folk songs. Vocalist Erland Cooper is quirky and charismatic a clear relish for performance. The catchy, ‘My Name is Carnival’ was a particular highlight that ensured they left a lasting impression.

The Leisure Society squeezed onto the tiny stage with minimal fuss. The two front-men make a watchable pair; Christian Hardy perched behind the keyboard and Nick Hemming clutching a tiny ukulele. Christian worked on his banter during the set whilst Nick charmingly dealt with some self-confessed stage fright. They played most of the material from the album – including the title track which does not often make an appearance in their live sets. The magical, ‘We Were Wasted’ sounded crystal clear and really showed off the band’s use of vocal harmonies; the song’s haunting chord progression a satisfying contrast to lyrics inspired by “clubbing in Birmingham in the mid-90s”.

Their particular take on the Beatles’ ‘Something’ (recorded for Mojo’s October issue) finished off the encore but a more surprising cover made an appearance earlier in the set. At once brilliant and frustrating, Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’ was certainly a novelty. The signature riffs translated brilliantly to the woodwind and string instruments and the bass line was reassuringly familiar. However, it lacked pace, as if the batteries were about to go on your Walkman. This can be forgiven however, as the sheer brilliance of cover choice and their relentless charm and musicianship carried them through.

The finale of the main part of the set was the gently upbeat ‘A Matter of Time’, its minimal intro quickly erupting into full orchestration complete with “ooh, aah” backing vocals and culminating in a triumphant extended outro that you couldn’t help but sing and clap along to. For the encore, Nick introduced a “brand, brand new song… so new the rest of the band don’t know it yet”, documenting his surreal transition from warehouse worker to acclaimed song smith.

Whilst ‘The Sleeper’ is one of my favourite albums of 2009, The Leisure Society is showcased at their best live – breathing extra vigour into beautifully crafted songs and allowing their playful side to show through – a perfect antidote to the cold November evening.

Angela Slater


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