Gigs

Live Review: The Phantom Band, The Bodega (03/10/14)

            How best to describe The Phantom Band? The Scottish six-piece, formed in 2002, have notoriously become as difficult to pin down in terms of genre as it was for the group to finally settle on the name ‘The Phantom Band’ – this, in itself, a reference to their multiple identity changes up until 2006.

Since their first full-length release in 2009, Checkmate Savage, the ensemble have moved from strength to strength, gaining much critical acclaim and building up a loyal following in the process. Nottingham’s contingent of this loyal following were out in full force at The Bodega on Friday night to get a taste of the new album – Strange Friend – on tour for the first time since its release this summer. Tracks played from this latest record appeared to give the doting crowd exactly what they wanted; a continuation of the genre-defying blend of alternative rock, electronic and folky roots which have come to define The Phantom Band.

Deco’s performance sounds like an energetic mix between Little Comets and White Lies, creating a full and dynamic atmosphere that the audience soaked up

Deco opened the evening with a powerful command of The Bodega’s upstairs venue. Considering the Staffordshire foursome formed only earlier this year, Deco delivered tight renditions of the indie-electronic tracks that have earned them radio play on BBC introducing and support slots for bands such as Coasts, Depeche Mode and now The Phantom Band. With punching, chord driven openings, catchy guitar fills, and an occasional electronic overlay for good measure, Deco’s performance sounds like an energetic mix between Little Comets and White Lies, creating a full and dynamic atmosphere that the audience soaked up. Add to this the speed with which Deco have come to prominence, these guys are certainly ones to watch as they grow over the coming years.

“Anyone remember the last time we were in Nottingham?” to the cheers of the gathered pack. “You’re fucking liars”, he laughs, “No-one was here…”

The anticipation for the evening’s headline act was evident. Clambering to the stage with big sleigh bells, a bigger beard, and riding a wave of synth and applause, frontman Rick Anthony surveys the room with authority. His cavernous baritone is undeniably a signature part of their sound; a feature whose manifest presence is mirrored only by the enviably impressive work of drummer Iain Stewart. The group’s chemistry is conveyed not only through the quality of their live performance, but also the way in which they perform – they are drinking not only together, drinking with their audience, climbing on amps, revealing their nipples – the ambiance is one of a group of friends entertaining rather than performers and a paying crowd. As they launch into ‘The Wind That Cried The World’, a clear favourite from Strange Friend, Anthony asks “Anyone remember the last time we were in Nottingham?” to the cheers of the gathered pack. “You’re fucking liars”, he laughs, “No-one was here…”

Engaging with such a multitude of genres, and as many different instruments, including cow-bells, guiros and even a melodica, the band’s overarching modesty seems misplaced

Engaging with such a multitude of genres, and as many different instruments, including cow-bells, guiros and even a melodica, the band’s overarching modesty seems misplaced, particularly during songs such as ‘The Howling’ and ‘Folk Song Oblivion’ which evoke rapturous responses from the dancing mob. “We’re definitely not the best band in the fucking world”, replies Anthony to one punter’s cry to the contrary. While they may not be, they appear as a band who love what they do, to such an extent that they defy their instructions to wrap up and launch into their soaring instrumental piece ‘Crocodile’. “There’s more of you than there are of them” he chuckles, gesturing at the bar staff. They exit the stage quickly, and the cheers and applause signal that the people still wanted more.

James Noble

James is listening to: ‘Hot Squash’ – Pulled Apart By Horses

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