Saturday 9 August 2008

Where's Runnicles and the Shameless Plugs - Part I

Should I ever decide to start a band, and given my musical talents it's not at all likely, that probably wouldn't be an altogether bad name. As it is, it seems as fitting a title as any for a series of reviews of concerts I've gone to on account of people I know being involved. (And as good a way as any of declaring a potential conflict of interest before getting down to the review.)

Glasgow based indie band The Starlets have recently added Caroline Evens on violin, who in turn invited me to their recent UK tour. I was unable to make the Edinburgh gig, but fortuitously later that week I found myself in London when they were playing at The Good Ship in Kilburn, and while the rest of the weekend was planned, that evening was largely clear.

The first signs were not encouraging. On entering the music was not very good, and not helped by the fact that it was over-amplified and distorting horribly. Fortunately, The Starlets had NOT taken to the stage yet.

Thankfully they did fairly soon after (so making my delayed flight something of a relief, and leaving me only a couple of songs to wish that, like a wiser person, I had brought earplugs). As might be expected from a band that has both a violin and trumpet in the mix they have a somewhat atypical and nicely lyrical sound. (In contrast to the first group they were properly balanced and at a sensible volume.)

More than anything they reminded me of The Decemberists, though in my view being rather more interesting musically, not least in the various textures the band produced. If there is a criticism it would be that the lyrics aren't anything to write home about, but then not everyone can be Leonard Cohen.

Their sets were all too brief and followed by enthusiastic and deserved calls for more (calls with which Where's Runnicles was for once in sympathy). They are due a new album soon, which I await with interest.

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