The School, The Lodger Master The Art of Kissing in Different Ways More
Written By Michael Wood Saturday, April 19th, 2008
Simone White, Peter Von Poehl, The Lodger, The School, Chiara L's, Voltaires The Art of Kissing at The Faversham, Leeds
Voltaires are the kind of noisy cliche that I worried would mark The Art of Kissing - a night in Leeds pub The Faversham and while they have their charms they lack a little originality. Guitars grinding and guys singing and they are rewarded for their efforts by applause but Leeds - as opposed to the other four centres of population in West Yorkshire - seems to produce a formula for bands and Voltaires are very much of it.
The Chiara L's are from a similar template. Musically they are strong with a powerful drum and bass pushing lively guitar but lead singer/keyboardist Chiara lacks the stage presence to make the band stand out. She hops and jigs on stage and at one point seems to engage in performance origami all of which screams "quirky" and serves to underline her slightness on stage. She wears the dress of a sparkling front woman but no one is at home.
The band are plagued by technical problems not of their own making and before the next band arrive an amp is replaced which is a shame because behind the girl is an interesting sound which is over-ruffled tonight. Up front though they seem - once again - to lack originality
Having loads of people on stage and coming from Cardiff is anything other than original these days and The School share an almost identical set up to the previous band save the addition of a xylophone glockenspielist who looks as if he has been dragged from a building site and is none too pleased about it but the breezy brand of annunciated vocals and tweed up backing is more disarming.
They wear their influences well - The School being the suffix of a Belle and Sebastian song which has obviously been digested by the band - and they bring something fresher to the mix. All I Wanna Do sounds like Dusty Springfield fronting The Divine Comedy while Valentine sounds like it could be pulled from a lost Camera Obscura album that had slipped back in time to the 1960s.
The band are invaded on stage by five friends who join the band in high hand clapping and despite the fact one looks as if he is about to swing his pants the whole stunt appears charming. Strains of Steph's violin drive Let It Slip and tweecore finds a breathy Sarah Cracknell. They are selling singles on pink vinyl after the show and that fits rather well. If you do not tap your feet to The School then you probably don't have any.
The Lodger do not need to find their feet and tonight play a set of two old and five or so new and brilliant songs including new single and perhaps best work so far The Good Old Days which marks a real advancement in Ben Siddall's song writing hanging the melody off a palmful of chords and if you buy into the idea that this band really are the new Smiths then this is their How Soon Is Now?.
All of which comes at the end of a set which sees them augmented with an extra guitarist who adds a breadth but not a weight to the sound and they still sound crisp and picked out of the best of pop music. The band have just finished new album Life Is Sweet which improves on the excellence of Grown Ups. A Hero's Welcome lyrically plays with themes of isolation - "You could be waiting for this bus forever/waiting for the fun to begin" evokes Manchester's finest while being up to date.
The Lodger are the sound of waiting for a mobile phone to bleep with a text that never comes. How this City adores The Pigeon Detectives and Kaiser Chiefs over this band amazes me.
After such excellence Peter Von Poehl - a single, tall, hairy Swede - has a tough time impressing. He is the next in an increasingly long line of Swede solo artists and he is more Jose Gonzalez than he is Jen Lekman but eventually he wins me over with a cover of Heartbreak Hotel that omits the word lonely in favour of a guitar break - Elvis would be impressed - and if his songs do not have enough of an honestly to them then his performance certainly does with his neck snapping up right to sing high notes.
Von Poehl will live longer in the memory than Simone White who’s acoustic stylings are lost in the late night hub-bub of the pub at ten thirty and one is forced to wonder who put the two solo acoustic performers on last?
No matter. These all day events peak between eight and nine and that is when The School and later The Lodger shone.