Careful What You Say / Laid / Down To The Sea / Five-O / Wave Hello / Redneck / Sometimes / Love Hard / Dance Of The Bad Angel / Bone / In The Darkness / Monkey God / Fall In Love
review by brd
There was a storm outside, endless rain, as we meandered from central Cardiff to Cardiff Bay in search of the Engine Room, the venue for tonight’s third stop of Tim Booth & the Individuals sea to sea mini tour. We didn’t get struck by lightning but got drenched as we sought and gained refuge in a nearby pub for a pint, some grub and more importantly some warmth.
As it would turn out, we experienced the literary construction of prophetic fallacy, as we would shortly be swept away by the flood of excellent music.
The show got off on a humorous note with Tim congratulating us as being amongst the lucky few ticket holders who had been vetted and let in due to our purported excellent hearing skills. To be trueful, I was oblivious to the size of the audience, as I was transfixed by Tim’s outstanding performance and by my close proximity to centre stage. Anyway, this good humour and relaxed attitude continued through the far too short night, with a real rapport quickly struck with the audience and between the band itself. At one point, Tim in his role of standup comic, asks for the venue’s security staff to help out a patron who keeps on shouting “protect me” (poor disoriented bastard didn’t know he was over ten years too late for that gig).
The variety in the music delivered through the night was impressive. The new songs ranged from the powerful guitar rock of In The Darkness (centring on sexual obsession), to the pub rock of soon to be released first single Wave Hello, the complex vocal trio presented in Down to the Sea (quite a different arrangement to that done in Tim’s performance with 1 Giant Leap last year on Dom Joly) and the jazz rock workout of cd title track Bone, featuring bassist Robin on alto sax and acoustic guitar. The latter song reminded me of the trademark sound of classic band Traffic.
Lyrically, the new songs are rich and like all of Tim’s writing, their complexity will likely fully reveal meaning when allowed the luxury of repeated close listening (this being Tim Booth, it wouldn’t suffice to read the lyrics as you have to hear the inflections in his voice to grasp the true meaning). Standouts in this category include the aforementioned Bone’s musings on life; Monkey God, which discusses how existence and spirituality are all interconnected; and Redneck touches on celebrity and mentions the Hindu God Rama in the chorus.
The Individuals are an outstanding band. Drummer Milo is a powerful rhythm keeper; the flexibility of multi instrumentalist Robin is a real bonus to the band, spending 60% of the night playing bass and the rest playing guitars and saxophone as well as the occasional backing vocal; songwriting partner Lee “Muddy” Baker is a strongly competent guitarist and bassist, constantly adding backing vocals and lots of cheek to the proceedings; and then there is diminutive keyboardist/flautist Lisa “Xan” and her amazing atmospheric vocals. She is the secret ingredient to the Individuals, truly providing the extra elements to the older songs which sets them apart. This is particularily evident to her world music vocal colourings in Booth and the Bad Angel’s Dance of the Bad Angels, and her contribution to the vocal trio which closes James’ Sometimes. Not enough of her voice is heard through the night.
All is not perfect through the night, as after all Tim Booth and the Individuals are human (or are they?). Guitar tuning is a bit off in the otherwise amazing rendition of Five-O, Sometimes could use a touch of acoustic guitar throughout as it approaches piano lounge music at times, the guitar in In The Darkness should be heavily distorted to give it the edge it needs and the breath taking set closer Fall in Love needs a bit of synthesizer as the melodica makes it sound like a campfire song. Finally, and most important, the set was TOO SHORT! We should have heard at least another couple of songs from the upcoming CD. Nine of the twelve songs was not enough. Greedy bastard, eh?
At the end of the night, there is definitely a new colour in the musical rainbow: Tim Booth and the Individuals. Don’t miss the opportunity to see something amazing unfolding. Next time there is a Tim Booth show, bring a few of your friends and an open mind with you.