Monday, 21 June 2010

The Miserable Rich live at West Hill Hall, Brighton 19.06.10

What sort of crowd would turn up to a Miserable Rich gig? I had no idea what to expect when arriving at West Hill Hall, a small community hall situated on the edge of Brighton City Centre. I struggled to get through the door as the venue was packed to bursting, but as I pushed my way in I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to see families sat around tables, on the floor, and leaning against the walls, all there to enjoy the music together. It’s something you would never be able to have at any other venue in Brighton, most of which are pubs and clubs. It seemed like the perfect venue for the bands ‘homecoming’ gig (I say homecoming, however I’m unsure as to whether it actually counts or not as after a couple of songs they announced that none of them were actually from Brighton).

I was fortunate enough to turn up late, meaning I missed most of the support act. This was a good thing as far as I was concerned seeing as all her songs seemed to bleed into one another: She sounded like she was dying tunefully, to put it nicely. She could sing, but the songs were dull, miserable and exceedingly average. The only thing that stopped it all sounding the same was the change in backing instruments; one song there would be a guitar accompaniment, the next a horrible sounding piano, the next synths and so it went on. I didn’t catch her name… I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

So, onto the main show – The Miserable Rich suit the room perfectly, having set the stage up with lots of fairy lights, lamps and visuals being projected on a screen behind them. It gave the venue a very warm and welcoming atmosphere and added to the intimacy of the show. They opened with ‘Pegasus,’ – the first song on their new album ‘Of Flight and Fury.’ Immediately it became obvious that what we were about to see wasn’t your average gig on a Saturday night in Brighton; the cellist and violinist created warm drones, while the double bass and acoustic guitar kept the songs moving. As a backing band it seemed unconventional but so perfect. Add to that the front man who was able to change his singing style from song to song, one minute singing with a smooth beauty, the next growling down the microphone aggressively. There is no drummer, but then again who needs one when your front man adds percussive notes to every song with bells, maracas and a snare drum played with everything from his hands, to sticks and the aforementioned maracas?

They put on a great show, mostly playing songs of their latest album that this tour had been to promote. Highlights included ‘Pegasus,’ ‘Let It Fade,’ ‘Chestnut Sunday’ and an unpredictable cover of the Iggy Pop track ‘Shades.’ I don’t know if this is a regular addition to their live shows, but if it wasn’t then I don’t think that anyone would have been expecting it. It wasn’t a straight cover of the song, it was very much their own interpretation, and I have to admit that I preferred it to the original. As they drifted between songs it was near impossible to take your eyes off the band, and more importantly the front man who was theatrical and friendly. He addressed the crowd at every opportunity, telling stories of where the songs came from and seeming very grateful for everyone who was there watching him perform. The only thing that distracted me from watching the band was the visuals being projected on the screen behind them that were, I noticed about fifteen minutes into their set, on a loop. By half way through their set it had become a little irritating, like watching a clock, only prettier.

Overall the show blew me away; I never imagined being so engrossed in a band like this in a live setting. There were a couple of weaker moments in the set when they played some of their older material that I personally found a little boring and predictable. But I must have been the only one that thought this as the rest of the room was singing along with these songs that were obviously familiar to them. I wholeheartedly recommend checking The Miserable Rich out in a live setting, I will be watching for the next time they are in Brighton. I don’t want to rate the night as a whole as the support act tarnished the evening for me, but The Miserable Rich deserve a 9/10

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