Sunday, 16 November 2008

Pelle Carlberg / The School / Arctic Circle / The Noughts And Crosses Band – 6 November 2008, The Windmill

The Noughts and Crosses Band’s first and last songs are reminiscent of Talulah Gosh! with sweet girlish harmonies, plenty of ba ba bas and tumbledown, runaway melodies. In between they go folky dolky with recorders, ukulele, a drummer girl and g-a-s-p MELODICA DUETTING! Truly, the instrument of indie is being utilised in mysterious new ways. Fashion news: the three Noughts and Crosses girls (there are boys too) wear skinny braces to hold up their breeks, but weirdly they’ve got them clipped onto their pockets rather than their waistbands. Is this the hip new way to wear braces? Those crazy kids!

Arctic Circle are another ramshackle crew playing eclectic, lemonade fizzing up yer nose pop songs, with plenty of random percussion and swapping of instruments.
A girl sits thumping a rattley rhythm on a snare drum. A bloke looking like University Challenge circa 1972 twiddles away on guitar, on occasion cranking out oddball solos. A feisty wee girl sings and dances in a mildly confrontational manner at the front before scurrying into a corner to bash the bejesus out of a glockenspiel and the surrounding area.

They have a song that sounds like a bit of ‘Blister In The Sun’ which eventually descends into the bass line of ‘My Sharona’ and finally descends into total wrong-ending chaos. It’s good. ‘Prancing Pearl’ features janglingy funky guitar that wouldn’t be out of place on a Postcard Records release, and clattering beats courtesy of the snare, with celebratory mid song, arms-aloft ‘ah ah ahs’. There’s a lot of celebratory-ness (that is a word, yes) in Arctic Circle’s music. Like a biscuit tin Animal Collective, the band gleefully pound out a set of curious, upbeat, fit-to-burst melodies. ‘Shipping Forecast’ races into its glorious “Let’s not go to sleep just yet” refrain pulling you along in its helter-skelter wake. ‘Mother’s Ruin’ features the keyboard bloke singing sweetly against a tinkling, jittery groove and sounds like dancing through raindrops. Arctic Circle are like the other school band; the one raised on Belle and Sebastian b-sides and kept locked out of the music room because they’re misfits. But misfits with excellent tunes.

Liz from The School is feeling a bit croaky. She’s been off sick all week, but as she says this doesn’t apply to gigs, and so The School are here to make the best of it. And brilliantly they do, spreading rainbows with their sunshine baroque pop.
They’ve even blown up a load of balloons to add to the ribbons ‘n’ bows ’n’ best party frock atmosphere, although they forget about these until halfway through the set.

Pelle Carlberg has prepared himself for the Swedish winter by wearing a vest. Unfortunately, it’s bloomin’ boiling in The Windmill and by the end of the set such is Carlberg’s enthusiasm for performing that the shape of his undergarment is outlined in sweat on his shirt. It’s quite good fun watching it slowly appear. But not half as much fun as listening to the music and watching Pelle enjoying himself onstage. You’d have to be a right miserable old sod not to be charmed by this show. In a softly Swedish accent that’s peppered with odd London glottal stops Carlberg tells us little stories to introduce the songs (e.g. how meeting Mike Joyce in Copenhagen was the inspiration for ‘I Touched You at the Sound Check’). He goes all self-deprecating (advising us that we might find ‘Middleclass Kid’ to be ‘old fart’s folk music’ – it isn’t, or at least we all enjoy it anyway). He does excellent little kicky dances that rival Stuart Murdoch’s soulboy moves. He strums away mellifluously on guitar backed by a be-quiffed drummer and the groovy cap ‘n’ moustache wearing bass player who we recognise from January’s Club 8 gig. He is an entertaining wee chap and no mistake.

I have been thoroughly enjoying Carlberg’s latest record, ‘The Lilac Time’, and am pleased when he begins with irresistible album opener, ‘1983 (Pelle & Sebastian)’, and then there’s the irresistible ‘Metal To Metal’, oh and ‘Nicknames’ and, and ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, all with killer tunes that lodge in your mind, dissolving like sugar lumps into your blood stream. Tonight I discover there are lots of older songs from the previous two albums that are equally instantly adorable; ‘Riverbank’ with its wistful verses and cheery ‘do do do do’ sing-a-long chorus, the excellently titled ‘Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls’ (also available printed on a special Pelle Carlberg tote bag, shopping fans!) and the infamous journalist-baiting ‘Go To Hell, Miss Rydell’ He even encourages audience requests, obliging with ‘I Love You, You Imbecile’.

At the end of the set, Pelle’s keen to carry on entertaining, apparently in his element clutching a guitar in front of an eager audience. As we reluctantly step out into the night, he’s embarking on a confused but cute version of The Darkness’ ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. Now that’s entertainment.

No comments: