The Concretes / Euros Childs

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • ULU
  • 2006-04-11

Euros Childs’ solo work is unsurprisingly continuing some themes that fans of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci (the band he used to front) will recognise and those occupying ULU for this evening would have enjoyed — although it was hard to tell due to a significantly still crowd — and to be honest I’m not too sure that anyone knew who the man was. For those who’d been fans of the psychedelic adventures of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci though it would’ve been a treat as Childs’ leftfield indie-pop is naturally very similar in sound, and it was performed both faultlessly and effortlessly throughout, and so if people were getting their first experience of the man, he may have won himself some new fans.

After an instrumental introduction Childs and his band kicked into the gloriously oddball “Donkey Island” from recent debut solo album Chops, and keeping the upbeat adventures of this track going it was followed by “Dawnsio Dros Y Mor”, sung in Childs’ native Welsh tongue. The band switched moods between these quirkier tracks and their driving uptempo rhythms and slower more, reflective moments with other songs for which the frontman would switch from playing his guitar to sitting down at the piano. Towards the end of the set a repeating synth arpeggio signalled the start of lengthier track “First Time I Saw You” which moved through eight or so minutes of pleasingly light and minimal folk/indie with a krautrock steadiness. The final track of the set saw the band ending on a high with the particularly glam “Hi Mewn Socasau”.

Childs is still the same whimsically-crazy musician he’s always been.

Childs is still the same whimsically-crazy musician he’s always been but he’s done that, and more inventively years ago already, so what has he still got to offer? Well — steady, accomplished and enjoyable pop songs, with his distinctive voice and a skill with both the minimal and the abstruse — he’s probably never going to be massive but that’s kind of nice, he’s the type of act you’ll love going to see in small and friendy venues.

The Concretes can be described by using many similar words to Euros Child’s: folk, indie, pop, quirky, nice… but though the acts share some sensibilities and compliment each other perfectly on the bill, the Swedish headline group are quite different. They sparkle with their special mix of traditional folk sounds, waltzes and ballads and have a great presence with their eight members. The Concrete’s sound drifts, rolls, drives and shuffles through various moods, often very emotive and rousing, sometimes haunting yet always quite comforting, the group even make a disco beat sound like it’s not really a disco beat, catching it up within their beautiful, orchestrated pop.

Much of the material played was from the group’s impressive new album Concretes in Colour but there was ample place in their fifteen track-long set for some older gems from their first proper full-length (self-titled) such as the glorious “You Can’t Hurry Love” and sensitive “New Friend” with its fantastic suporting (supportive in the song’s context) group vocals.

They sparkle with their special mix of traditional folk sounds, waltzes and ballads.

As well as showing off different moods, and in fact aiding them, the band offered an array of instrumentation with, alongside the fairly conventional guitars, bass, drums and keyboards; trumpet, flute, saxophone, glockenspiel, a ukelele-style stringed instrument and singer Victoria Bergsman even clapped her own head. The frontwoman, although sometimes appearing quite rigid, often showed off another reason for the band’s appeal — their humour, first poking fun at the British indoor climate and then later apologising for the end of one of the songs as she had been needing to burp. The band also gave out a present to a fan — a Concretes alarm clock, with Bergsman exclaiming “you’ve been stalking us!” after looking at who she’d given the gift to.

After the main set and then a brief exit from the stage the group returned for a three song encore, the first of which was sung by drummer Lisa Milberg and the last of which, the rousing “Warm Night” from the first album, ended the gig perfectly, its extended chorus continuing on after most of the band had left the stage, with the guitarist playing the main riff several times over before eventually receiving his own applause and exiting, leaving the melody still joyfully bobbing around in most people’s heads.

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