Let’s Do That Time Warp Again

Live Review

Written By Ria Wilkinson Thursday, May 1st, 2008

The Nightflyers Dance Band, The Letter and The Analog Bombs May Day Mayhem - PCS Local Campaign at The Love Apple, Bradford

The evening kicked off in unusual style at the Love Apple with a 14 strong swing music band, The Nightflyers. With a generous 4 saxophone, 3 trombone and 3 trumpet brass sound enriched with a bass, percussion and organ, and occasional flute and clarinet, we were soon aurally transported back to a time when men were besuited cads and bounders and women in tea dresses were grateful for the silk stockings. Foot tapping away and eyes closed, it was easy to picture The Love Apple alive with twirling dresses and brylcreemed hair as people enthusiastically danced together to some of the classics of Swing played tonight.

The Nightflyers deftly worked though a range of material encompassing, but not exclusively, Rat Pack classics, Louis Prima, Glen Miller, Ella Fitzgerald and even Marvin Gaye. Each piece was announced and anecdoted on and this was appreciated by the audience who may not have been overly familiar with Swing music beyond the rehash of it by Westlife et al.

Their set passed quickly and the pleasure of the band performing together was apparent as they threw themselves fully into the music - most notably the trumpet trio - and none more during the penultimate piece, Mas Tequila. Finally, after about an hour, the nostalgic spell was broken and suddenly we back in the room, clad in denim and t-shirts, pints in hand.

After a rapid turn around of the stage area, The Letters arrived to provide a welcomed bridge between the swinging brass and a rather more raucous Analog Bombs later. This was about the fifth gig for the quartet, although singer Kelly admitted they were starting to lose count which I think shows how well they are into their stride, especially with their 8 track set which has become like meeting friends when heard by these reviewers now. They opened with the anthemically stirring Woke Up In The 80s which included Kelly purring names of 80s bands into the mic and giving a period Blondie a run for her money. She was ably abetted by her (mostly) ex-Green trio of men, livewire Rob - trademark beam in place - punishing the percussion, Kev nonchalantly working his black bass whilst Leon made well judged use of the various pedals at his disposal on lead guitar.

After an uplifting start to the set, things turned a little more melancholy as tracks Just Remember and Lemony lingered on weakness and misconceptions of people. Here Kelly’s voice showed it’s range from the more powerful 80s style of Blondie or perhaps Jane Wiedlin to the vulnerable and hurt which also rendered What Do I Do Now? with more despair and sadness than Louise Werner could ever had let herself show on the original version. On Barfly, What Do I Do Now? and These Thoughts, Kelly added some rhythm guitar to add extra depth to the sound yet without overcrowding the melody and vocals - frequently misjudged by many a band currently. It’s a rare commodity that The Letters possess to have confidence to keep things simple and understated and literally let the music speak for itself. No gimmicks, no grandiose arrangements, just versatile vocals over skilled instrumentation which shows the maturity both musically and personally of the collective. The set draws to a close with Flurry and then to lift the spirits and to mirror the opener, Drive is the final song to leave the audience humming as they head towards the bar.

So with Swing music from the 1940s and if The Letters are waking up in the 1980s, did this mean perhaps Analog Bombs might give us a glimpse of music from 2020s? Well if that was the case then, it’s all going to be back to as early as the 1960s through to the early 80s for post punk, 2 Tone and generally psychedelic inspired noises. Where The Letters may have a more experienced and professional sheen to their band that gives excellent cohesion, Analog Bombs are all about the entropy of alcohol and cobbling it together as it goes on stage.

They are the loveable rogues of the Bradford music scene and never less that totally entertaining as distinctive singer Ben lurched about with the mike stand on stage, Magners bottle a fixture in his hand, and nearly took out guitarist Lee and simultaneously quenched the thirst of a large amp with some Fosters. However, disaster was averted by the observations and snappy reflexes of the relative new comer to the band, bassist Rick. He has really come out of his shell since his debut and apart from ska-skipping as he played, he already seemed integral to the group as Ben pointed out at one stage, almost ruefully, that Rick knew the lyrics better than he. Into the third song, one of his bass strings went and Rick valiantly played on as a mate attempted a Formula 1 type string change.

That change took more work so, the rest of the band filled with a bass free interlude of a lighter track, and The Letters Kev lends his bass for another song until the problem was rectified. Analog Bombs ran through various songs that are well loved like Lola , Hancock and their ode to the infamous Tumblers and several people were up on their feet giving it some of the hoppy, skippy ska dancing and clearly loved this exuberant, scruffy and charismatically chaotic ending to an evening of music that crossed both genre and time.

Written By Ria Wilkinson Thursday, May 1st, 2008

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