When I heard the Crimea were playing at the Soul Tree in Cambridge I decided that since I'd heard their single and quite liked it then I might as well go along. And hey, tickets were under 7 quid including booking fee and that included the indie club afterwards, so it was a bargain even if they turned out to be rubbish. As it turns out we ended up with three good bands for the price of a pint each. Nice one.
Openers Pilots of Japan were young and a bit quirky, with the usual indie-guitar formula complemented by the addition of some electronic wizardry from a synth and assorted gubbins (I know nothing of these things, you can tell). Once again I wish I were better at describing music, but they were much more interesting than your average guitar band, and I particularly liked the track which had the chorus accompanied by extra vocals through a megaphone. We were all pleasantly surprised, and so much so that in my case I went and bought their album. Their bass player said hello while we were standing by the bar talking, and seemed really friendly, and something about the drummer's happy absorbed smile while he was playing really reminded me of Steve Early. A good start.
Next up were Clearlake, who made much of it being the first night of the tour and them not being used to playing live, but who Owen recalls from around 5 years back. Their extra experience did show in their ability to play though and they did sound much more polished, as well as having a lot more confidence talking to the audience. They also had the excellent and unusual gimmick of singing really clearly so you could hear all the lyrics. Snow and Neon were tracks I particularly enjoyed. I'd certainly see them again.
And finally the band I came to see, who by this time I was concerned would be a let-down after such interesting support. Nah, of course not. Three or four of the tracks during the main set stood out for me, though Miniature Violins is the only one whose name I recall. Ending with a mournful note they pushed past the crowd off stage, but we knew they'd be back - they hadn't played the single yet and the set list had three tracks listed for the encore. It was at this point that they really showed they've got something, breaking out the bubble machine and the showstoppers. The first track had the singer abandon his guitar and band mates and wade out with the mic stand into the audience, where he sang with incredible intensity, at one point from his knees, while we stood around in a certain amount of awe. They followed this with a cover of Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere which had those of us old enough to appreciate it singing and bopping along. And of course last but by no means least was the single - a lovely little pop song to end on a happy note.
They were so much better than I'd been expecting, and to top it off I managed to spot a second copy of their set list and rescue it, having been too slow for the obvious one, and sitting on the floor nearby was Clearlake's setlist too - a great souvenir (especially since it being e-tickets there was nothing for my scrapbook otherwise). We stayed and danced a short while, but the music wasn't really grabbing us, and well it was a schoolnight. And as I was leaving the bass player from Pilots was standing by the door and caught me as I passed to say goodnight. I was touched. An excellent night out.