Tuesday 18 April 2023

His Lordship, Bruno & The Outrageous Methods of Presentation, US, Hot Stamp The Lafayette Kings Cross 13/4/2023 by David Leach

There are some things you do sometimes online and immediately regret. Opening that email from a prince from a faraway land offering to stick a million in your bank account is one – opening Facebook sponsored adverts for bands that an algorithm has decided 'you might like' is another. So, when a sponsored post from His Lordship made its way into my Facebook feed, my initial thought was to scroll past it but - hold on a second – this was a well put together advert with a bit of studio footage from their recent single and a list of tour dates. So, after a bit of digging in iTunes, I decided that I quite liked the sound of these guys and bought a ticket; even better, I persuaded a mate to come along. Onto the night itself, this was my first visit to the Lafayette in King’s Cross, a venue that I am led to believe is a converted warehouse. Whoever designed it as a music venue has done an amazing job making it a very welcome addition to the small/medium-sized London venues. A lit arch over the stage reminds you a little of the Forum/Town and Country club in Kentish town, and the upper balcony gives you an air of the old set of the TV show The Tube, plus there is a nice high stage which gives you a good view from everywhere. 

The first band onstage were Hot Stamp. They were a young five-piece band, and a little bit of research leads me (I hope correctly) to believe that this is the brainchild of two sisters called Jasmine and Poppy, one of whom plays guitar and the other is the singer. I seem to recall them mentioning a song one of them wrote in their set so I’m guessing they write the band’s material too. I really enjoyed their set; sound wise they were somewhere between 70's disco, Patti Smith and Blondie, but it felt like a modern take on it all rather than being at all a pastiche.  I wasn’t planning to write this review of tonight’s show so I’m afraid that there are no song titles; instead, I let the whole thing wash over me and style wise they looked fabulous as if they would be equally at home on stage in the late 70's, at CBGBs or on stage on a sunny afternoon at this summer’s Glastonbury. I didn’t see much of the next band as I went upstairs for a drink, but they were a young band from Finland called US. Judging by their last two tracks that I did get to see, they were playing fast Garage Rock, the last being a cover of "Say Mama", and were getting a great reaction from the audience. 

Bruno and The Outrageous Methods of Presentation were a band I’d been particularly interested in seeing as they were recently on the same bill as the fabulous Fallen Leaves, who had been complimentary about them – itself an endorsement.  They arrived on stage to a spoken monologue, which I can only describe as a freeform description of what we were about to hear; Art Rock got a mention. Bruno himself is a tall, youthful bundle of excess energy, strutting around between songs, strumming and talking about things I cannot completely make out then bursting into life with his band playing sharp, Garage Punk Rock/Pop (there is a bit of everything) with one song about 'the TV and the radio' being particularly catchy. The spiky jagged edges of Bruno's performance are tempered by the assembling of a very accomplished band around him, one of whom I recognize as Delia Sparrow on bass who also plays drums currently in the Dagger Debs. The sound got a bit heavier towards the end of their set, and the audience around me were really getting into it – I’m pretty sure I even saw some headbanging. I would recommend seeing them – if this is Art Rock, I’m all for it. 

Finally, onto His Lordship. For some reason I had it in my head that they were from the US, so when front man James Walbourne announced a song in a London accent, I was a little taken aback. I think that I’d made this lazy assumption as they are clearly influenced by 50's rock pioneers such as Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis when hearing wonderfully claustrophobic speedball rock and roll tunes (what dragged me here in truth) like "I Live In The City" and "I Am In Amsterdam". These and other songs played live tonight sounded even better than the recorded versions, with the longer songs, like the atmospheric "The Repenter" given more room to breathe - more in the realm of what you might call stadium rock. Looks wise and sound wise, James is completely convincing as a Rock and Roll front man, dressed like the other two band members in sharp black and white suits. His guitar playing is fabulous too and, when he launched into the occasional lengthy solo, I was genuinely dazzled rather than wondering when it was going to end. They had the feel of a band who had been together for many years but from what I gather they are a relatively new concept.  

It’s clear they are excellent musicians and, added to a great PA system and great acoustics at the Lafayette, they cooked up a proper thrilling rock and roll storm during a set of just over an hour. They finished with a blistering version of "My Girl is Red Hot". I referred to the TV show The Tube earlier in this post; well tonight felt like a particularly great episode of it with a varied cast playing a fresh 2023 take. There have been a few moans recently that there aren't the bands coming up and I, for one, am fed up with seeing artists from 50 years ago glaring out of the cover of music magazines when there is great contemporary stuff like this out there. As for the Facebook advert, it’s fair to say His Lordship with tonight’s busy venue would have more than doubled the size of their audience from their last London appearance which I note was the Lexington. Plus, some great up and coming support acts got the benefit of playing in front of a large, receptive audience so wins all round I reckon. So I’m definitely open to any other adverts Facebook throws my way ...now where was that email from that Prince offering to put money in my bank account!
- David Leach April 2023

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