Sunday, 5 August 2012


Review: MMT.

So, me and Phil were philosophising. About how you can never tell which bands are going to leave a lasting musical legacy and which bands aren’t. If you’d asked me when I was 19 which band from 1994 were going still be influencing teenage bands almost two decades later I wouldn’t have hesitated – Nirvana. Or, at a push, Suede, Blur or the Manics. I certainly wouldn’t have predicted Green Day. And likewise, if you’d told me in the year 2000 that Blink-182 would still be casting a long musical shadow in 2012, I would have laughed you out of town. “Blink-182?  They’re a comedy skate-punk band, surely?  No one takes THEM seriously!”

But you never know. You honestly never know. Who’s to say that Dappy won’t be hailed as a musical visionary in 2030?  Or that the single album by Viva Brother won’t be rated higher than the entire discography of The Strokes in half a lifetime’s time?

Still – none of this is to take away from Sounds & Scenarios. Their lively blend of pop-punk and indie – influenced by the two aforementioned acts! – was a fittingly excellent way to kick off an excellent afternoon’s worth of music at The Pitz for “Basement Music Live” (five acts brought to us by (what we reckon is!) Milton Keynes’ best music radio show). They were one of the best young bands we’ve seen for a while: energetic but catchy – they could develop into something special. Also loved the matching waistcoats!  And their last song, “Prized Possessions” hints at how much more raucous they might be in a night-time gig!

Second up was one of our favourite local acoustic acts: Seeking Salvation Through Love. The high quality of the Pitz sound really showed off how good his voice is – between the songs the pleasingly busy audience were hushed to silence! – and we were even treated to a new song!

While I’m here, I should mention that it’s noteworthy The Pitz are still doing gigs, even on a Sunday afternoon. It may have lost some profile in recent years since the departure of Paul Rivers, but there’s no doubting its credentials as a venue. The lights, the stage, the sound, they’re all still in as great nick as they ever were – even if between the acts the sound guy exclusively plays heavy rock from the years 1989 – 1993. The only thing they’re really lacking is a cash machine. (stares mournfully at empty pint glass)

I’d heard good things from the Basement Music guys about I’m Called George, but never seen them before – though when they opened their set with a Lana Del Rey cover, I must admit I thought “Man, These Will Do Me”! It was a great set throughout, really very impressive – hook-laden pop-rock gelled together by the pounding rhythms of the drummer and the synth layers from the keyboard man – in fact all four musicians are clearly very skilled. Plus they had fans with I’m Called George t-shirts and banners!  That really is the dream, right there!

They’ve got a song – I think it might be called “I Wanna Know Your Name”? – which opens with vocal harmonies, bounces through some classic rock shapes and ends up in an immense synthy middle section which is absolutely captivating. Great stuff, one of the best sets I've seen in 2012.

YC Olie is such a consummate professional, such a safe pair of hands. Again, take nothing away from his performance and his songwriting, but he’s more like a compere than the actual comperes – enthusing about the other bands, thanking all the people that need to be thanked. His love for what he’s doing is infectious, and he can turn his hand to any kind of gig. Those of us who happen to see him play quite a lot are excited to hear some of his newest songs, performed along with a backing track of a ‘full band sound’ which is a very intriguing live twist.

We’ve always believed headliners Isabelle to be one of the most musically accomplished of all local(ish) acts – their summery soul-pop (and do I even detect some smoky jazz flavours today?) is easily good enough to reach a national stage. I’ve seen them a few times now, but one thing which strikes me at this gig is how spot-on the backing vocals (provided by their percussionist and drummer) are. They may come from... shall we say men of a certain vintage?  (like we’re ones to talk!)  ...but they sound like the missing two members of a Motown girl band when they harmonise with lead vocalist Letty. The crowning moment of genius in their set this time is the cover of “Groove Is In The Heart” – a song which I had believed was uncoverable by band bands... till now!

So... a great and variety-filled gig, and a smashing way to spend a Sunday afternoon. All hail Basement Music. See you at the next one!