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Howe Gelb - Bodoga, Nottingham, 2/10//2009

  by Sarah Mwangi

published: 24 / 9 / 2009

Howe Gelb - Bodoga, Nottingham, 2/10//2009


Despite being confined by the small stage of the Nottingham Bodega, Sarah Mwangi sees upbeat Cumbria-based indie rock outfit Wild Beasts play an exuberant and forceful set

“How much space does a man need to get his groove on?” Wild Beasts’ leading man, Hayden Thorpe asked the audience, as he calculated the size of the Bodega’s (mini-)stage. Someone from the crowd shouted rather specifically, "5x5 m2." Others laughed politely but the response that took hold of the night came from Thorpe’s counterpart Tom Fleming, who said simply, “Let’s find out”. They flew straight into ‘The Fun Powder Plot’, with its gentle uplifting tempo being the first to test the dancers among us. Although few were bold enough to go beyond making drunken two-steps, many greeted the following selection of highlights - ‘All The King’s Men’, ‘Hooting and Howling’, ‘Devil’s Crayon’ - with a burst of applause and from the better of us, sing-a-longs. Meanwhile, the interchanging of Thorpe and Fleming on vocal duties created a beautiful contrast. The variation between the acquired falsetto of Thorpe’s vocals and Fleming’s palatable baritone were a delight as it continuously highlighted how refined and astute Wild Beasts are, as the pair's polarised vocals complemented each other so well, (not least demanding gratitude from me as I stood by two huge speakers). Steady in their own world, guitarist Ben Little and drummer Chris Talbot gave little in terms of banter, but had an abundance of back beats and melodies. As the rhythm section, they took shape between the Smiths and 80s U2 producing similar chiming and jangles, regardless of Little’s falling quiff. Bringing another facet to their playful repertoire, the surprisingly sombre ‘Two Dancers’ which was sung by Fleming in his rich gravel tones, demanded the audience throw away any previous judgements. They showed that they are not the sum of their parts but instead lyricists and melodists with depth and a generous helping of humour. And while they presented none of the theatrics that one assumed might accompany some of their music, they did emerge as a down-to-earth band. With ease and charm they moved from the poetic songs of ‘We Still Got The Taste...’ and ‘This is Our Lot’, to banter about strawberry fruit corners and eating too much at a Chinese buffet, therefore restricting their ability to dance,( irrespective of space).

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Howe Gelb - Bodoga, Nottingham, 2/10//2009

Howe Gelb - Bodoga, Nottingham, 2/10//2009

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live reviews

Luminaire, London, 4/10/2009
Howe Gelb - Luminaire, London, 4/10/2009
At the London Luminaire, Anthony Middleton watches Howe Gelb manage to pull off the rare trick of being both consumately entertaining and also genuinely experimental and inspirational
Babylon, Ottawa, 2/3/2006

favourite album

Sno Angel Like You (2016)
Howe Gelb - Sno Angel Like You
Keith How examines Giant Sand front man Howe Gelb's solo album 'Sno Angel Like You' which found him working with a Canadian Gospel choir and finds it standing the test of time

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Gathered (2019)
Off-kilter but haunting lounge jazz on new solo album from former Giant Sand frontman Howe Gelb
Future Standards (2017)
7 Inches of 'Sno (2010)

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