The Irrepressibles (and a bit of McCookerybook)
Off down to Offline at the Albert. to sing a few songs for Em's birthday do.
For the first time, rather than the punters talking ever-louder as my set progressed, they actually listened (a lot of them) and some even made a special effort to come over to take a look. As Mike told me last night, I'm probably the quietest act he's ever put on at the Albert, and I felt that I more than survived the experience. The night at the Albert was in full swing but I had an appointment elsewhere, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. It's been ages since I've seen Jamie and double-ages since I've seen the Irrepressibles play, so I was really looking forward to this.
In spite of the sound-man's attempts to ruin the sound from time to time, the band is just so good they could rise above anything. They are well-rehearsed, dedicated (they all believe in the vision), very good musicians and fascinating to watch. They really care about what they are doing but not so much that they are pompous and silly (yes, flute-player, I saw you giggling; but you are a true professional and managed to giggle only with the side of your face that was facing the band, not the audience: howudothat?).
Jamie has a world-class, powerful and emotive voice, bang on key wherever he is in his range, which weaves and swerves and meanders through the luscious orchestration (double bass, cello, viola, violin, flute, soprano sax, keyboards and kit), holding it all together like a silken rope. He's funny too. 'Thank you for coming' he said. A few of us got the joke. Another time, he adjusted the mic; the audience anticipated great words. He coughed into it.
The songs themselves are like subversive Bond themes- huge songs that hit you with waves of dynamic sound. My favourite last night was 'Boy in the Lake', the best Jamie-song, which has a new arrangement that is playful and oblique, but it doesn't mask the mesmerising beauty of the song.
I'd prefer to see them in their raggedy old jumpers and trainers than all dressed up in false eyelashes and slap; but I know this puts them into an art-rock category that they need in order to be successful. He used to be my student, you know. Boy am I proud of him!
On the way there, I saw a woman who inspired me to make myself a t-shirt saying 'CUTS OWN HAIR'. It was her fringe that did it. I'm one of those as well, unforchly.