The Pony Collaboration, At Swim Two Birds @ Kro Bar, Manchester, 13th April 2007

At Swim Two Birds @ Kro Bar, ManchesterWe went to this gig on the strength of At Swim Two Birds‘ performance at The Circle Club supporting Final Fantasy last year. That night Roger Quigley played to a hushed audience his slow, lonely songs and it was all rather wonderful. Unfortunately the crowd at Kro Bar were not so courteous and despite the fact that the first thing Quigley did was to ask people not to talk during the set his pleas fell on deaf ears, or perhaps people couldn’t hear him through the din, and his set was effectively ruined by a constant chatter that grew in volume as the gig went on. Quigley was joined by a cellist – the perfect accompanyment for his sparse, maudlin fare – and, after opening with “I’m In Bed With Your Best Friend”, which was marred by a sound mix that rendered Quigley and the cellist almost inaudible below the backing track, a film was projected onto the back of the stage. The film was called “The London Nobody Knows” and was a documentary made in 1967 which saw James Mason meeting all sorts of oddball characters on the streets of the city. Unfortunately I became quite engrossed in the film and ended up not paying enough attention to the music. The same could be said for much of the audience and as the murmuring increased you could sense Quigley becoming more and more frustrated until, after only about four songs, he said “right, that’s it” before making an abrupt exit.

Earlier we had enjoyed My Side Of The Mountain‘s melodic, laid back pop: a keyboard-heavy brew augmented by electro bleeps and some beautifully constructed instrumental passages when guitar, bass and drums came into their own and stole the show, particularly on the superb final song, which may have been called “Start A Fire” and which featured some rather excellent drumming.

Tim And Sam's Tim And The Sam Band With Tim And Sam @ Kro Bar, ManchesterTim And Sam’s Tim And The Sam Band With Tim And Sam were a kind of twee version of post-rock, all airy instrumentals with acoustic guitars and violins and no bass or drums. The only vocals were of the “aah aah” variety and they were mostly, and sometimes jarringly, out of tune. Though the performance was initially pleasant I soon began to yearn for the bit of bottom end and the vocals that the songs were crying out for.

The Pony Collaboration rounded off the night in style, the upbeat nature of their music at odds with everything that had gone before. After the country pop of their opener had immediately engaged the crowd they played a varied set that incorporated some great boy/girl vocals and nodded occasionally towards The Go-Betweens and Eighties indie-pop and at one point managed to sound not a million miles away from Broken Social Scene. It was a good end to the night though I left slightly disappointed that the At Swim Two Birds set had backfired so badly.

At Swim Two Birds – Darling

My Side Of The Mountain – Winter People (from their website)

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