With Alan McGee back in the press with a forthcoming biopic it’s interesting to think about his work outside of ‘Creation’ and in particular his turn of the century label ‘Poptones’. Most noteworthy as promoters of punksters The Hives, perhaps the real heroes of Poptones were The Cosmic Rough Riders, a Teenage Fanclub sounding collection of complex harmonies, jingle jangle, and folk pop. Potentially demonstrating the impact of Poptones, local act Candis Dog kick tonight off with their Rough Rider sound of gentle acoustic pop and layered harmonies. Highlights ‘A light has gone out’, ‘Get away’ and ‘Crossing the line’ (interestingly enough all are offered for sale) all sway with a pop feel, strong harmonies and a folk-driven sound. If Poptones were still around they’d most likely be checking the Dogs out.
Stepping up next, Elizabeth Lidell, does what the best soul singers tend to do; appearing timid and fragile until they’re behind their instrument and are transformed into an artist unafraid to display every last part of themselves. Fierce, powerful and highly emotive, Lidell’s set is full of interesting minimal, piano-based, soul. Highlight ‘Too much to lose’ steals the set with a heart-breaking melody plucked straight from the world of Karen Carpenter and a structure which uses a slowed down track, and an accessible hook, to provide a safety net for a vocal delivery full of heart wrenching emotion Displaying a range of sounds the remainder of Lidell’s set is impressive in both its originality and delivery with standouts including ‘Devils disease’, ‘Lonely’ and a song so new it’s yet to have a title.
Building on Liddell’s soulful set, headliner Archie Faulks proves that the most moving soul musicians are those that place honesty, rather than perfection, at the centre of their performance. Opening with ‘Blackout’, and a broken guitar capo which nudges in gentle guitar imperfections, Faulks uses this evening as a vehicle to show the truth behind the character; honest between song stories about past relationships, occasional playing errors and vocals strived for but partly missed, the impact of Faulk’s performance is his willingness to completely expose himself for his art. And it’s gorgeous. And in a way, it’s close to Nirvana’s ‘Unplugged’ set and the bands’ willingness to let you see the beauty of their work, mistakes and all.
Highlights ‘Whispers’ and ‘Willing to learn’ offer gorgeous melodies and soaring falsettos, a cover of ‘To love somebody’ breaks pretty much everybody in the audience’s heart and recent single ‘Wonderful’ is an absolute show stopper with its ambition to be the best never-sung-by-a-boy-band, boyband ballad, complete with accessible melody and catchy pop hooks.
Faulks proves tonight that the best soul music isn’t the type which is polished, rather it’s the type which is relatable. This lad’s on fire.