Monday, March 25, 2013

Polka dot: Brighter Later

For most of the year, penciled in my diary under Sunday 24 March has been 'Brighter Later album launch N'cote Social Club'. Being the nun that I am these days (early to bed, early to rise) I eyed it warily. There was no way I was going to miss it – I would go to the opening of an envelope if Brighter Later's front lady Jaye Kranz was somehow involved – but my stamina after the moon tracks its way across the sky is notoriously poor. Still. There is something to be said for going hard sometimes. It creates its own momentum. I put in a good effort on Saturday night at a fancy black tie affair. By Sunday night it was a way of life.

I spend most of my time either with my children or colleagues these days. And while these are peeps I love and respect I am generally my G-rated self in their company. Was it the pub environment? The Twin Peaks soundtrack between acts? The fact I spent most of the early nineties with half of the people in that room? At the Northcote Social Club on Sunday night in the company of old friends I felt like I opened a little storage unit in my head, a place where  my dirty twenties are stored. It was good to give those M 15 + memories an airing.

Then the stage curtains parted. In the centre Jaye sat bent over a keyboard with Brighter Later's Virginia Bott to her  right. The two of them were flanked by six musicians, all men, tightly packed around them. Shane O'Mara (legend?), Dan Marsh (Human Face), Patrick Dunn (Lower Spectrun) Sean Albers (regular Brighter Later drummer), Simon Baily (Pony Face frontman) and hairy Cameron Potts (best known for his drumming with Ninety Nine). On this occasion I saw him clap his hands and play a book with uncommon gusto. Though I couldn't tear my eyes away from him, they were all wonderful. For someone who sees little live music I was struck by a few things. The sight of eleven guitars, neatly stacked like bikes along a rack. The sheer number of cords and electrical equipment. The glances between musicians as they spoke to each other with instruments.

The band launched into 'All the World', track one from the The Wolves. Jaye's ethereal sweet voice filling the room, the thick, dense sound of the band creating a rich soundscape. Their music evoked a sublime and forbidding landscape. They followed it with the Woods and Satellite. At the end of that song Jaye looked up and said "That was nice. She said it like a perfectionist pleased with what she'd heard. I liked her solemn, though not humourless, stage presence. It was a powerful contrast to the cocksure swagger of supporting act Tommy Spender who had entertained the crowd with a guitar and a gutsy Bruce Springsteen cover an hour earlier. At the end of the night, between 'Another Day' and the encore, 'Zigi Song', dedicated to her grandfather, she flashed a big, bright smile. It was a smile of joy and maybe a little relief.

Oh, the top. The polkadot top? Gorman, naturally.

The Wolves by Brighter Later out now.

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