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Morning Bride/Imogen/Carmen Rosa (live)

Amity (click for larger image) (pic: Ian Barratt)The Spitz, London
18th July 2005

A balmy, dirty London night finds me climbing the spiral at The Spitz to see Morning Bride solely for this review, or souly for my own pleasure. There is no way that humans can survive long in this heat, or so I imagine. It’s raining outside, a slow tease rain that isn’t going to refresh so much as make sure my fellow audience members smell damp on top of sweaty.

Ah well, The Spitz makes up one hundred fold for their lack of air quality with their super listening quality sound and an engineer who knows which knob does what. Another credit is that I have a little candlelit table, a feature of The Spitz. They don’t have enough of them, and I had to move mine to just the right spot, but it’s miles better than the usual small time of trying to write while being jostled by people who aren’t listening to sound which is unhearable.

So on to the music. Band one up is Imogen, a duet of girls next door types singing sweet Folky songs accompanied by the guitar of one of said girls. I don’t know, this isn’t my sort of thing, still it does take some guts to perform raw like this. The guitarist doesn’t sing as well as her partner, who has a lovely voice that sounds quite church trained. The songs are a bit unremarkable, but the delivery is first class and brave. I reckon the lyrics are homemade but I can’t remember them. It feels a bit like fifteen minutes have rolled by and twelve songs. For the finale, the girl with the good voice leaves the stage and the guitar player scandalizes “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. I’ve now lost all sympathy.

Amity (click for larger image) (pic: Ian Barratt)Now Morning Bride. Starting off with my favourite song of theirs is a good way to begin. “Blue-Eyed Boy” is not only one of the most evocative of their songs, it is a perfect showcase of Mark Pearson‘s divine wordsmithery. The message, “there’s got to be another way of slowing down time/than running backwards all around the world/Hang on and keep the wolves at bay/help is on it’s way…” transmits right through my blood into one of hope. It’s a catchy song, one I’ve heard many people sing along to watching the band, one that I’ve heard someone singing away from a gig, cycling past on a sunny afternoon. My point being that Mark clearly has what’s necessary to write a saleable song. But there’s more than that, a haunting melancholy behind all that promise of hope and herein we get to what is a gorgeous theme running right on with all of Morning Bride’s material. Mark has written and arranged these songs with a craft that most bands miss. Darkness and light, speed and lethargy. Old Blues and Postpunk, right down to dirty Southern Rock and Roll. And it isn’t just that these are themes behind the songs, these are themes within each song. With proper minor chord heartwrenching urgency, Morning Bride have found a combination of players which comes on like a chemistry class ready to demonstrate fire power. There’s only four of them but they can move a room full of a super varied and super cynical audience to shut up and take notice and call for more. I’ve seen it with them time and time again, and we’re talking jaded audiences, used to everyone doing everything possible to be different, to be other, to be original, to be blasé. A magic happens when Morning Bride plays, an enveloping and indisciminate magic.

Fabio (click for larger image) (pic: Ian Barratt)I‘ve mentioned basist Mark’s infallible writing ability; Mark is a poet. Then we have Amity with her gossamer voice looking and sounding truely like a just blessed morning bride. A voice that seems a little delicate but flowers out in the most pleasing way when she lets it. She is beguiling, she sounds like the girl voice in all your best dreams. There’s also Jim on drums with his serene Jesus looks, playing tailor, sewing up time to thread everything together. And Fabio on guitar, o Fabio… A man who has clearly absorbed the lessons of many masters before him and ever so slyly will flow from gentle strokes to true “Freebird” style rocking out so that one hardly notices before one is swept up in near lighter waving frenzy. His decisive understanding of Blues guitar causes my ears to crane round corners to see if I really am in backstreet New Orleans. That is a feeling I could not do without. The boys sing along as well and no one is upstaged or featured but the band as a whole glimmers. In fact both Fabio and Mark have fantasticly strong voices and create gliding harmonies with Amity.

More poignancy in “This Place Is No Place For Harbouring Angels”, which is, not to gush on, such a strong show song it lets a listener conjure up beautiful day dream visions of the failed perfect love affair. To be fair, I don’t even know all lyrics, but the general mood of the tune allows for that, for one to make up one’s own story and to let Morning Bride soundtrack it. The rollercoaster of slow/soft anticipation and then fast/loud requition really estimates the true gut pull that love is. On a new song, “Stepping Out In Front of Cars”, I’m reminded of this other pure power behind Morning Bride which is that they do so work together, play off each other, and each song is dependant on the band as a unit. “Replica” is another crashing good example of their ability to interact and switchback roles. Mark sings alone, just when you crave him to, and then Amity carries this crafty tune along to the place just inside your head where it will stay playing for days to come. Again it’s the twisty lyrics, “Who loves you baby? Who really cares?” with such an inflection of sarcasm and bitterness, matched up to the smack in the face rise of “Bang!Bang! Lay down and play dead…” that I want to store the song for when I really need to tell someone off.

It seems unthinkable that Morning Bride will not become a commodity, so saleable and so well packaged as they are, naturally occurring as if they have been streamline destined to fuse together. So I say bollocks to all the jingle jangle guitary pre-fabs around who are outselling each other in scandalous numbers. Music like this: crafted and nurtured and devoted is like a hymnal to the aurally starved masses. It’s music to be felt and sung along with and soul racked by. See Morning Bride if you can. I hear they will be recording very soon. One swoons at the idea of Morning Bride in one’s own private listening chamber…

In bad form – I blame the stifling heat of the place – I left too early to appreciate the last band, Carmen Rosa. They were kind enough to supply an EP which on a few listens, does sound like I rather missed out. Maybe it’s a little bit like Slint. Still, the heat was too hot and the night was too cool to keep me in for long. ‘Til next time then.

-Lilly Novak-

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