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Midlake, Wilton’s Music Hall, London, January 31st 2010

February 2, 2010

I was mildly diverted by Midlake’s breakthrough album The Trials Of Van Occupanther (despite its unwelcome over-reliance on 70s Fleetwood Mac and Genesis) and intrigued by their as-yet-unheard new album, The Courage Of Others, which has been described as heavily influenced by late 60s and early 70s British folk-rock. Reviewers have raved over both the band and the new CD, so I went along to Wilton’s Music Hall just east of the City to see what all the fuss is about.

In truth, I was more impressed with the venue than the band… Wilton’s Music Hall, built in about 1858, is a wonderful survivor of a bygone era of thriving local live entertainment. What’s extraordinary is that the building’s structure is just about  intact, but there’s little left of the décor. Bare walls and floors give little away about the original look of the hall, which makes it even more atmospheric. Sadly, though, the building is falling down, so please give them some cash if you can spare it.

Midlake entered this romantic gloom and played three new songs from the new album followed by two biggies from their first album, Roscoe and Van Occupanther. So far, so OK – although front-man Tim Smith even bears an eerie resemblance to a young, fuller-of-face Mick Fleetwood. The new songs are quite Tull-like, with an inflection of Fairport and Steeleye Span, but after a few more of these songs, my attention began to wander.

The duelling flutes were on occasion very attractive, but the whole thing is wrapped up in too much of an austere, reverential approach to British folk-rock. The band is from Denton, Texas, so I assume the English countryside is indeed a very foreign place, but reverential is wrong. Hell, all the Fairport fans I know slag them off mercilessly from time to time. Theirs is not a tradition we need to painstakingly preserve. Instead it’s one I want to celebrate but appreciate that it moves and changes with the times. The only preservation I wanted to see this evening was of the beautiful hall we were in.

Wilton's Music Hall

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2010 6:07 pm

    BNG,

    Yo! When you start bloggin’?! I missed the P.R. on it.

    Well, I’ll have to link over from TW.

    I mean afterall. A gig’s a gig.

    Great title.

    Well, as someone once said, keep on bloggin’

    thrasher

  2. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    February 2, 2010 7:41 pm

    Way to go, Guy! Who’da thunk it? Keep up the good work – hope to run into you this year.

    Best

    Mark

  3. brandnewguy permalink*
    February 2, 2010 7:50 pm

    @Thrasher – I’m blogging every gig and festival I go to in 2010…. if I like it (and can keep up) I might carry on beyond 🙂 Many thanks if you can link…
    @Mr Moon – good to hear from you… CSN in Paris in July is tempting – still looking out for ticket details.

  4. February 2, 2010 8:24 pm

    Were you on your own for this one, Guy? Or did you have any colourfully named companions?

  5. brandnewguy permalink*
    February 3, 2010 9:59 am

    My friend the Browne Bluesman… 🙂

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