Review: the Winter Warmer at the Jericho Tavern

December 2008

“The answers to our global woes won’t be found with shiny logos on a special aisle at Tesco’s...” Is that the ghost of Purchase-Free Future we’re hearing? Almost: it’s performance poet Danny Chivers with Don’t Buy It, part of a set that ridicules the human tendency to accumulate heaps of junk. His witty rhymes and repertoire of voices brighten up the chilly and still-sparse crowd. We’re even joining in with chants by the end of his set.

By the time Les Clochards walk on stage, the crowd is relaxed and receptive, but the singer has a trick up his sleeve to win us over even further: handfuls of Roses flung into the crowd. As the name suggests, the six-piece show strong French influences in their dress and sound. Frontman Ian Nixon (guitar and male vocals) sports a down-and-out dandy look complete with battered top hat, while singer Corinne Mateo is sleek and chic in black. Karen Cleave’s accordion playing completes the Gallic feel. Highlight of the set is Tango Borracho, sweet female vocals - “I get drunk and I forget things” - interspersed with Nixon’s mumblings about a night out gone awry, all set to an incredibly catchy tango rhythm.

Night Portraits follow, changing the mood from sophisticated whimsy to intense noise-making. If you close your eyes, it’s hard to believe that there are only two guitars being played. They make heavy use of feedback and guitar effects to sound like much more than a three-piece. ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are obviously an influence, along with The Fall. Unfortunately, they’re beset by technical problems and have to cut their set short.

The Mile High Young Team take to the stage shortly afterwards, depleted in numbers but not in spirits. Singer Colin McKinnon takes over Adrian Breakspear’s guitar duties while the latter is sunning himself in the Antipodes. Despite being a five-piece rather than a seven-piece (cellist Caroline left the band recently), The Mile High Young Team are on fine form. They get off to a cracking start with an impassioned Distance Between Them and the rockier Becalmed. Newish track Silver City showcases Emily’s soaring vocals, then there’s a return to the harder sound with Pollution. Final track We’re All Clear comes too soon.

They’re followed by Alphabet Backwards. It’s a one-man acoustic set, so he’s lacking the backing vocals and extra sounds that you hear on record, but the stripped-down versions of the songs works well. By now, it’s clear that the name of this event was a statement of intent: the line-up of artists so far has made us forget the chilly world outside.

The Winter Warmer was a Gappy Tooth Industries event.