Monday, 13 February 2012


You know when – very rarely I suppose – you’re at a gig and all the pieces fit? Several crucial factors come together in a way unlooked for and just interlock beautifully, jigsaw-perfect? Well, that happened to me not once but twice last week. What are the odds on that? I’m almost scared to go to any more gigs in the coming months for fear I’ve jinxed them.

I guess it helps that the two headline acts at these two gigs, on consecutive nights right here in MK, are two of the best local (or semi-local) bands I’ve heard in all my years swerving in and out of the scene – but still, both of them totally lived up to my fanboy expectations!

Thursday night at the MK Gallery Project Space, and Felix are hypnotising an audience with their spellbinding sound as the snow falls gently but persistently in the square outside. This is the first time I’ve been to any event in the Project Space, over the way from the main MKG, and it’s a fittingly arty setting for the three-piece: essentially a small gallery-stroke-warehouse space with white walls and cables strewn across the floor. Phil and I arrived early enough to hot-foot it to the small sofas in one corner, as befits men of our advancing years.

Though frontlady Lucinda hails from Milton Keynes this is actually the first time I’ve seen Felix in the flesh – long-term readers will remember my gushing about their debut album a couple of years back, they’ve already long since made it big enough to not need to be playing here very often! In fact this gig is part of a brief UK leg of a tour which moves on to Canada and the US as they prepare to release their second album in the Spring. Which is brilliant news! I hope they get bigger and bigger.

Their support comes from a chap from Derby trading under the name Emphemetry – one man, one electric guitar and any number of pedals – slowly building up loops of himself which grow into things of intense fascination. We’re starting to see this done more and more around the local open mic scene, but I’ve never seen it done this well before.

The silence which builds during his set is cemented during Felix’s. The audience who have braved the mildly wintry conditions are rapt, not daring even to whisper as we’re treated to a whole batch of new tunes every bit as fascinating and beautiful as their previous work. The three members (piano / guitar / drums) are so tightly in sync with each other it might be telepathy. Near the end, Lucinda and the drummer both bring out matching ‘xylaphone-shaker things’ (this may not be the technical term...) and chime out aching harmonies beat-perfect.

Felix don’t sound quite like any other band I know, and that’s why I love them. There’s layers and angles and hidden corners to them, and that’s reason enough to dig any band. Brian assures us that the cover they play is Hendrix. Man. I am so glad I didn’t miss this!

And then, 26 hours later, I am stood upstairs at MADCAP with a big sappy grin on my face as Final Clearance rock their way through “Monkey Kettle Track Of The Year 2011” ‘Synth Song’. An appreciative audience of whipper-snappers, the parents of whipper-snappers, and assorted bredrin from the Monkey Kettle Massif whoop and screech their approval. And though this may be the last Dudebox Chronicles gig (at this venue leastways) it feels like an extremely satisfying end chapter to me.

The two younger bands in support are both very impressive too, ‘belying their tender ages’ [this is the sort of cliché rock journalists often write, I’m a bit ashamed to stoop to it here to be honest]. The Individuals are very exciting – a singer with an impressively full voice, solid support from the instrumentalists, and a livewire drummer who’s so hyperactive he drums standing up half the time! Good stuff – plus a nice mix of covers and originals. They had me at “Livin’ On A Prayer” but I also really enjoyed their deliciously bitter song about a recently departed band member. And they all jumped up in the air at the same time at one point – man, not enough bands are doing that these days!

The interestingly-spelled Amoania Lisa are a spiky three-piece whose frontman was wearing a very tall top hat! They may not have all jumped up in the air at the same time, but their tuneful grungy-punky sound was engaging nonetheless – and Phil and I both got very excited when they covered “Molly’s Lips”!

I know we probably go on about them a lot on here, but headliners Final Clearance get better every time I see them. Their ranks now replenished to a five-piece with the addition of new(ish) member Lewis, their sound is even more assured, and it’s a treat to see such a confident and mature – sometimes ‘mature’ can be used in a derogatory way with music reviews, I mean it here in a good way! – performance from them.

There’s even a few new songs on offer as well, which gets me excited about their 2012 – but it’s some of the old favourites which get the blood pumping hardest tonight. The rhythms, the violin cutting through, the tunes. Superb. Plus, we somehow managed to get an audience at a Dudebox gig! So now I can rest in peace, mission finally a-fucking-complished.