Thursday, November 26, 2009


3 amazing gigs in 4 nights! Tom Brossard/ Mary Hampton/ Susanna & The Magical Orchestra/ Monotonix

One of the things that keeps me interested in Brighton is the way you can pick any night of the week and know you can step out your door and hear some amazing music that'll change your day, week or even life. And this has been one of those weeks.

The divine Sarah M sent me an excited text on Saturday ordering me to see Mary Hampton and Tom Brosseau on Sunday night at the Hand in Hand, so how could I refuse? It's a tiny pub in Kemp Town (with its own brewery - hurrah!) so it was shoulder-to-shoulder when we arrived. Mary Hampton's set of ethereal folk was amazing: Hampton played piano and guitar, accompanied by cello, brass and violin in an utterly a captivating performance. There's an appealing darkness and fragility to the songs, and the vocal harmonies transfixed the audience.

Californian Tom Brosseau's set was markedly more upbeat by comparison. Brosseau plays country-tinged acoustic guitar folk accompanied here on some numbers by the marvellous Angela Correa, comandeering the seats in the pub's front window as a makeshift stage. A warm and engaging performer, Brosseau's stylish guitar picking left the audience in rapture, encoring with a ramshackle rendition of Irene Goodnight, dragging a pissed old geezer from the pub to join in, despite him not having a clue about the words. Surely no better way to spend a rainy Sunday night in November.

Back to Kemp Town on Monday for Norway's Susanna & The Magical Orchestra in the perfect setting of the Hanbury. I first heard them on Radio 3's Late Junction when the first album, Melody Mountain came out, and was smitten: it's an album of cover versions of the unlikeliest songs deconstructed and stripped down to Morten Qvenild's sparse keyboards and Susanna Wallumroed's celestial, weightless vocals.

Now up to their third album, the set represented songs from all three, mixing originals and slowed-to-a-crawl covers of Kiss's Crazy, Crazy Nights, AC/DC's A Long Way to the Top and their painfully desolate version of Love Will Tear Us Apart. The duo returned to encore with what may well be the definitive version of Hallelujah, Susanna's voice spiralling to registers only audible to dogs, bats and the criminally insane. Magical indeed.

Sarah M rocked up again as my gig guru for last night's Monotonix gig, having been ranting about their last appearance at the Engine Rooms and making me swear a solemn promise to attend their next gig. Hector's House was the unlikely venue, rammed with rocker boys, a smattering of old punks, beery rockabilly types and pissed girls. From the start this was going to be a very messy event indeed, as beer flew and the Israeli three-piece ran wild through the venue, delivering a brain-bursting set of feral rock n roll at its sweatiest, hairiest and most deranged.

The drumkit and stool were passed above the crowd as vocalist Shalev surfed up to beat the tom, held aloft by the audience. Shalev leaped onto the bar to drop his horrid little red towelling pants and stick the mic up his arse, while boots flew overhead as the whole band disappeared into the crowd surging from one side of the room to another, yet still somehow keeping the music going.

A brilliant night that's left me with a mystery bruise on my head, my hair stinking of beer and filthy jeans as souvenirs. Monotonix rock!


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