Today is not only the final day of the festival, but also the final day of summer. Thankfully the sun keeps his side of the bargain and wakes Gigwise up with a sweltering tent, but soon disappears for most of the day. However, there’s hope yet that the day will live up to it’s promise. As we’re reminded from the word go, we are not preparing to watch a group perform music. Of course not, why would we thing any different? Instead, we are lucky enough to be observing Emanuel Lundgren and his group of 28 Scandinavian friends. Forget building fans through MySpace (thats soooooo last year) I’m From Barcelona have instead appeared from nowhere thanks to the delightful video of latest single ‘We’re From Barcelona’ and it’s popularity on the free broadcast site YouTube. What at first appears to be all image and no substance, the ‘friends’ soon show that deep down is a pulsating core of talent and desire. Once the gimmick has worn off (take a step forward Polyphonic Spree) this core will need to remain strong if we will ever see a second album of the gloriously uplifting party tunes on offer this morning.
With a very limited release history, Jeremy Warmsley has still managed to get on the critic’s goodbooks. His performance today is a further reason why, and proves what a long term talent he is. With echoes of a more tuneful Patrick Wolf, Warmsley is not the only man onstage to shine. His fellow musicians also provide one of the performances of the weekend, parading an age old understanding of each other and their material. Piano lines thunder along at an astonishing rate, before being reigned in by the rhythm section. Current single ‘I Believe In The Way You Move’, out now on the superb Transgressive Records, is one of many songs to show that a good ditty really should equal more than the sum of its parts, and shows why its creator will not be on the small stages for long.
The surprise performances always seem to have a greater affect than the sets you KNOW are going to be good. Despite knowing deep down that Paris Motel was not a dumb rich blonde from the (in)famous movie, we still could not help but visualise her in exactly that image. Imagine our surprise then as we cross the Garden Stage to the thunderous music of Paris and her team of musicians belting out a swooning blanket of loveliness straight from the pre-war airwaves. The songs seem to soundtrack the feeling of falling in love, a feat made none more impressive by the fact that within the three minutes Gigwise are doing just that. Dressed in a corset and flowing dress, Paris shimmies and twists her body to every line which spills from her fragile lips. By the time she brings out her violin, our heart has been won over and we vow to investigate this unknown enterprise.
Resisting the urge to give up on topping the last performance, we soon find ourselves being knocked over backwards once again. Being truly original in today’s musical world is a challenge most artists rarely manage to conquer. David Thomas Broughton’s voice may be described as a more accessible version of Antony Hegarty’s (of Antony and the Johnson’s fame), but it’s the way it’s used which shocks. Using the age old technique of taping sections of music onto a repeating loop, Broughton creates musical landscapes rivalling Sigur Ros in their beauty and complexity. Of course, being a lone man on stage makes this even more impressive, but it also gives him the freedom to delve into different sounds. As the various loops continue, there are drums, guitars, cassette feedback, talking fruit (don’t ask, you HAD to be there) and some of the most inspirational lyrics of the weekend laid out over the top. Using Van Morrison’s approach of repeatedly bleeding everything possible from one word, sound or line, Broughton allows his voice to vent the emotions of his looped soundscapes. ‘I can’t make a living or hold down a job, Or survive on the pittance that their giving me, But that’s not a weight I carry with me’, builds in size on each repetition before being torn down with ‘It’s the weight of my love, for you’. Truly inspirational.
The Bumble Inn is acting as the third stage, though Gigwise don’t manage to catch a gig there until this afternoon’s performance from Emmy The Great. Despite listing her influences as The Blue Album, The Green Album, and Pinkerton (that’s the three worthy Weezer albums for the uninitiated amongst you), Emmy’s songs show evidence of depth not immediately recognizable on the first listen. With Jeremy Warmsley appearing on backing vocals and guitars, and just about every artist from the weekend cramming into the tiny tent for a glimpse, the atmosphere is one of expectancy. Comparisons to Regina Spektor are not far off, though today there’s less variance in tone and more in lyrical content. She may not have earnt her name just yet, but give her another year and there may be a chance.
After relishing the opportunity to hear Howe Gelb from the beautiful gardens behind the stage, where pianos nestle by hammocks in a forest of fairy lights, it was time for the evening acts. Despite being ‘robbed’ of this years Mercury Music Prize by his Sheffield neighbours (their words, not ours), Richard Hawley has still had a phenomenal year. Originally a guitarist in The Longpigs and Pulp, Hawley and his band can change the direction of a song at the pull of a single whammy bar. Opener ‘Coles Corner’ breathes new life into the soul, ‘The Ocean’ oozes desire and determination while ‘I Sleep Alone’ gets the feet tapping with its air of country naivety. This is music you’d feel all too glad to present your grandparents with, to show them that kids aren’t that bad after all and that there is still good in the world. But please, don’t tell them any of Hawley’s jokes.
And finally it’s time for Mr Ryan Adams himself, and his team of Cardinals to end the weekend in style. As Adam’s shows go, tonight is surprisingly straightforward and direct, with no ten minute mutterings between songs (apart from those witty EGG jokes) and no false starts. Tentatively starting with ‘Please Do Not Let Me Go’, it’s not long before ‘Kiss Before I Go’ allows The Cardinals to really stretch their legs. Understandably, it’s these songs which are favoured, replacing the solo tunes from 29 and favourites from Gold so popular on his last tour of the UK. ‘Cold Roses’ takes on a life of its own, far surpassing the recorded version with the bands obvious relish kicking the song into life. However, it’s the closing near medley of ‘Easy Plateau’, ‘Shakedown’ and a surprise electric version of ‘I see Monsters’ which send the specators into heaven, and marks the perfect end to the perfect festival.
Originally published on www.gigwise.com