Sunderland 3-piece, Field Music, take the Futureheads dynamic multi-harmonies and filter them through a Brian Wilson-built folk-pop experimentation device rather than Gang Of Four’s jerky punk. They played a half-hour of splendid short indie pop songs about girls and things, including recent single “You’re Not Supposed To” and “You’re So Pretty” — the latter of which was so good I wanted it to go on for ever. But it couldn’t as another band rather wanted to play too.
That band was Stereolab. After 16 years, 18 albums, 16 EPs, countless singles and other ephemera you would expect quality in 90 minute set. And quality was most certainly forthcoming. With such a vast back catalogue they were able to please just about everyone and there were obscurities for the die-hards and singles for the passing fan. Although they have very much a recognisable ‘sound’ they demonstrated the various styles that they have mastered during their existance.
These different styles of the Stereolab sonic personality show a band willing to diversify, take risks and still deliver.
Their recent limited 7” single collection Fab Four Suture gave forth three tracks, the perfectly crafted introspection of “Whisper Pitch”, “Eye Of The Beholder” with it’s urgent thrash of a chorus and “Excursions into Oh A Oh”. On record “Excursions…” is a neat slice of sixties psychedelia but live it becomes a sort of cosmic disko, bringing an addictive bassline and twin horn attack of trumpet and trombone (it was preceded by Laetitia asking “Are you ready to dance?” We were very soon).
Of course they also played the moog-driven favourites, like “Miss Modular”, the Gainsbourg breakbeats of “Sudden Stars” and elegiac majesty of “Cybele’s Reverie”. In addition, the penultimate track before their first of two encores was a furious motorik groove reminiscent of Neu! or possibly Can. These different styles of the Stereolab sonic personality show a band willing to diversify, take risks and still deliver. There have been times when the 17 minute dirges or electronic experiments on record didn’t work, but name an artist who hasn’t made duff tracks in a 16 year career? One needs only to look back at the highlights of great show, received raptuously, to see what a treasure they are. Laetitia sangs, on “Whisper Pitch” that “We should never write ourselves off”. You would do so at your peril.