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Dear friends (yeah really, one of those) I have become a women's wear designer for VIDA! http://shopvida.com/collections/voices/ ...

Monday, 19 January 2015

SubVersion Stop 245: Storyteller + Autumn Saints + Little Red @ The Wheatsheaf, 16th January 2015

Storyteller + Autumn Saints + Little Red @ The Wheatsheaf, 16th January 2015

Just like tonight's headline act name, each performer in tonight's It's All About The Music showcase has a story to tell. Whether they succeed or not, at least on the merits of tonight's landmark crowd attendance (back to a packed 100) is debatable. But for this reviewer, each performer makes a greater sum than the parts, and a defiant showcase all their own.

"Defiant" isn't a word you'd normally associate with the generally wispy songs of folk trio Little Red, but tonight they are lacking a performer in the delicately-voiced Hayley Bell. Narrowing the track selection - seeing as the tunes are built on interplay between gender - say, "What Say You" which features halfway - and underpinned by a dark, bubbling core that deals with themes of love, hope and sometimes even quiet despair. Frontman Ian Mitchell and producer/guitarist Ben Gosling make the most out of a compacted message: more energy - playing to that well-worn stereotype of male strength - and less of the feminine charm that doted their warmly-received "Sticks And Stones" LP from late last year. As a result comparisons with Fink and even Level 42 support The Mercurymen on two of their new tracks bears more weight, but if the over-talkative crowd could shut up while they play so we could hear them in their best light, that would be most welcome.

"It's all vaporous my friend" is a lyric that can also barely be heard from second band, the Americanans Autumn Saints, and despite their set being fairly interesting, pretty much sums them up. They improve as they go, and although the majority are into it, and the Hawkwind/Jethro Tull-esque worded delivery of the vocals sometimes strikes attention, much is show and no substance, and they need a proper rhythm section and astute instrumental variation to reward patience. The Fender Rhodes keyboard style guitar notes that dot throughout the middle of the set brings the quality up a notch, as do the moments where clarity over loudness gives the band the knowledge of what works and what doesn't. They show promise, in short, but we sometimes wish they'd be autumn saints for real, not autumn leaves, blowing in the wind.

Headliners Storyteller take to the stage with a nippy blast of saxophone as the Sheaf upstairs reaches near maximum capacity. Their intriguing mix of jazz, ska and punky pub rock starts out brilliantly as does the turning of a Booker Prize novel. By the end though, with a nicking of almost the entire chorus of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" comes the catch 22. That is, like a story full of ideas, a novel chock full of pages, there's often a lot of chaff that could be edited down. Besides Little Red, who I really enjoyed, and the appreciated energy gradient of the night, Storyteller sometimes pen too many sentences into their sonic diction to leave you a little lost. They have all the elements to really go places, and a dab hand interplay between guitar and saxophonist. But like oversized books, autumn leaves and even maybe a little red, the vapour needs condensing for the ideas to fully blossom into something special.

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