Photography: Tomas Adam / @TomasAdamphotos

La Violette Società 20

  • +
  • The Seamonsters
  • The Wood
  • Astles
  • Tom Spence
  • Michael Blyth & The Wild Braid
Violette Records @ Studio 2 27/11/18

Sold out weeks in advance, La Violette Società has become a cornerstone of the gig calendar in Liverpool. The twentieth instalment of the night pitches up in the cosy confines of Studio 2 Parr St, the nights’ regular home.

Reminicent of nights held in New York’s bohemian enclave Greenwich Village in the early sixties when coffee houses became a fertile breeding ground of talent, the feeling is underlined by ASTLES appearance on stage. A series of delicate acoustic tracks played solo, The Things I Know To Be True opens proceedings. New single Grey Skies supplies the highpoint of the set, as Astles’ voice soars impressively in the room’s excellent acoustics.

While chatting at gigs has become a regular gripe in recent years, refreshingly, the evening’s sets take place in absolute attentive silence. At times, even in the clink of ice in glasses sounds noisy.

Next on to the low stage MICHAEL BLYTH AND THE WILD BRAID begin to assemble. With his fedora hat pulled down low, lyrics on a lectern and stance at the mic, Blyth is reminiscent of Van Morrison. Vocally however Blythe sounds less like Van the Man and far nearer to the sonorous vocals of Brett Sparks from Americana doyens The Handsome Family. Musically, the Wild Braid appear to share some of that outfit’s swampy, gothic atmosphere.  Backed by Pete Wilkinson Cast and Shack associate, presently of Aviator on guitar, Cast tubthumper Keith O’Neill, famed for his frenetic Keith Moon-inspired presence behind the kit, is in restrained form anchoring the songs. Taking in a Warren Zevon cover plus Cecilia (no, not the Simon & Garfunkel standard), the last track When Day Is Done impresses the most, sounding akin to US alt. rock titans Low.

La Violette Società 20 Image 6

Continuing the Americana theme, THE WOOD, featuring noted Liverpool producer Steve Powell on guitar and singer Alex Evans, are next on stage. Appearing as a duo before being joined by a rhythm section, the outfit powered by Evan’s bluesman vocals evokes fellow roots singer Dan Owen.

A message to say that The Florrie has scooped a gong at the Historic England Awards in London in greeted with huge cheers. Following a spoken word piece on inspirational/divisive former Man Utd. captain Eric Cantona by poet ROY, the final act of the night take to the stage.

Given the democratic setup of the Violette Societa shows, the last act on are exactly that, the last act, as the night doesn’t feature a headliner as such. Sheffield alt pop ensemble THE SEAMONSTERS are on sparkling form, easily justifying their current buzz in the blogosphere.

Like fellow Sheffield residents Pulp who could pair barbed lyrics with melodious pop, the whimsical Max and Archie showcases the six-piece’s wherewithal at combining the soft with the abrasive. Studio 2’s provenance as the old rehearsal room for Parr. St Studios comes to the fore again as the multiple harmonies are perfectly captured. The chugging Blondie power-pop of Lost (And Found) along with a clutch of new tracks suggest The Seamonsters’ debut LP will be well worth investigating.

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