Thursday, March 26, 2009

Live Review: ‘Loz Bridge and the Box Social’ supporting ‘The Boy Least Likely To’

Another fulfilling night at The Joiners in Southampton where we discovered some happy pop mixed with social blues and jazz.

A thin crowd were throughly entertained by the first act of the evening, Loz Bridge and the Box Social. Although sometimes it’s a bit disconcerting when the band sit and the audience stand but that's the case when it's their acoustic line-up.

Featuring Loz on piano, Andrew Foster on guitar/banjo and Matt E sitting on a cajon - a Cuban/spanish box drum which you play with your hands.

It’s a remarkable instrument which adds enough bass to the mix so that you are not too disappointed about the missing double bass player.

Also missing were my table and chair, glass of wine and a smoky atmosphere which would have really suited the mood as Loz and the band mix blues and jazz with a touch of modern day reality.

They had everyone’s attention with the haunting ‘Sarah & the Wolves’ a song about unfair dismissal and a subject rarely covered by bands like Coldplay, or even Radiohead.

And then you have ‘Witches’ which has the catchy “I hate my job” chorus and is no doubt the anthem for most musicians unable to make a living from their art.

My only complaint is that Matt E had to “sit out” the song ‘November’. I’m sure he could find something percussive to gently waft while Andrew Foster uses his effects peddles to wrap sonic landscapes around the crooning Loz Bridge.

Maybe he could just read a book. Something dark to suit the mood; Edgar Allan Poe is a suggestion.

Due to conversations with the above and others I missed all but the last song of the second act "The School" so can't really pass comment apart from my usual "more effort in the stage gear required".

The night's headliners were ‘The Boy Least Likely To’ who I was ashamedly unaware of but they were such a fun act they won me over very quickly with their infectious, good time stomp and harmonies which seemed to spark up the pleasantly full room.

Formed around the duo of Pete Hobbs (instruments) and Jof Owen (singer) this seven piece smiled their way through a set of merriment that quietly hides a dark and sinister side.

“A lot of our lyrics are sad anyway,” Jof told me, “that’s kind of our trick to undercut the upbeat stuff.”

They describe their music as ‘Country Disco’ which does it justice but there is also a pure and natural Englishness about their sound which might be why they are loved in America and little known in the UK.

According to Jof: “America seems to understand us a little bit better. They seem to get the tongue in cheek, they get that we are not entirely serious and the sounds that we use are because we think they are quite funny.”

It’s the kind of aural flavour that gets XTC such great respect but enough awareness among the general public and it fills their second album “the law of the playground” which has taken two years to release thanks to legal wranglings with their former record company.

In fact in the past two years ‘The Boy Least Likely To’ couldn’t have record any new tracks as their old company would have owned those as well. It is a valuable lesson to anyone who still wants to get signed to a record label and maybe the resolution of these problems brings out the big smiles on stage.

From the new album the best example of their dark side is the song “I box up all the butterflies” which says enough really. The lyrics are wrapped up in the shades of summer that only an English band can create while hiding the definitely un-politically correct content within.

They are definitely a band for the economic crisis as plenty of people need uplifting and even if the feeling only lingers then at least music, in this case, has done its job.

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