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Lupen Crook - Social, London, 7/5/2005

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 16 / 4 / 2006

Lupen Crook - Social, London, 7/5/2005


Medway-based folk punk Lupen Crook has been attracting increasingly strong reviews. Jamie Rowland watches him play an explosive set at London club the Social

My evening at Central London club the Social started off strangely, as I was joined at my table by a burly looking chap with long grey hair. At first, I thought he was deaf, as he was communicating only by pointing, but then he put out his hand and said “I’m Bill. I’m quite old. I like to hear new music though, so I’ve come here. I might stay.” I pointed out that age doesn’t really matter when it comes to music, and introduced myself. At this point I thought Bill was just slightly eccentric, but I started to have my doubts as to his sobriety the second time he introduced himself to me. My suspicions were clarified when the DJ put on ‘Uptown Top Ranking’, which got Bill up and doing a shuffle and point dance around the room while going “Woooaaaahh! Wo-oh!” I’m not very adept at dealing with big, drunken reggae fans, and was feeling slightly anxious, but felt some comfort when Bill assured me he had no desire to have sex with me. He disappeared shortly after, which is a shame, because having come to hear new music, he managed to miss one of the best and most interesting new artists around; Medway’s own Lupen Crook. His set started as a solo performance on his 12-string acoustic, opening with ‘The Murderbirds’ from debut EP 'Petals Fresh From Roadkill'. The song started out quietly, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the audience didn’t even realise the set had started at first, as they chatted loudly throughout the song. Lupen soon made himself noticed though, with fan favourite ‘Lucky 6’. You could feel the energy in the room change as Lupen, and the crowd, got more and more into the show. People were drunkenly clapping and singing along, and Crook himself was almost exploding with energy by the time the song finished. After the first couple of songs, the rest of the band, aka the Murderbirds (Bob on drums and Tom on bass), joined him on stage, at which point the gig really took off. The full band version of ‘Matthew’s Magpie’ is tremendous; the bass line improves the already excellent song ten-fold. Other highlights of the set were ‘Sharkfight’, which I can best describe as being funk-folk (a lot better than that description might lead you to believe) and ‘Here 2 B Friends’, which goes from gentle plucking and soft vocals to hammering guitar strums and a pounding rhythm section on the chorus. The most surprising song for me was ‘Shake Baby Shake’, of which Lupen said “Coldplay would fucking love to have it”. My memory isn’t good enough to give a very detailed description of it I’m afraid, but it was a very different sound to any other Lupen Crook songs. I should have come to expect this by now, of course, as every release of his so far has been surprisingly different in its own way. This was illustrated again by the closing set of the track (before the inevitable encore), ‘Junk n Jubilee’. Bob and Tom picked up what seemed to be spare car parts and started hammering away at them while Lupen went crazy on his guitar, all of which came together to make a perfectly skewed piece of pop. I sat throughout this gig with a huge, stupid grin on my face; the music was perfect, the band were full of charisma and the audience were lapping it up, dancing around, clapping and singing along. Throughout the set, and even once they had finished playing, the band apologised for the all-over-the-place nature of their set, but it was exactly that that made it so good. There was an excitement to not knowing what you were going to hear next. This was without doubt one of my top 5 favourite gigs I’ve been to, and has really got me excited for the release of Lupen Crook’s debut album later in the year. The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Jenny Hardcore

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Lupen Crook - Social, London, 7/5/2005

Lupen Crook - Social, London, 7/5/2005

Lupen Crook - Social, London, 7/5/2005

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