Live Review

Great Escape 2009: Moshi Moshi Party, Po Na Na

Officially the most fun you can possibly have by simply watching good music.

The brief afternoon sun that had pierced the clouds neglects to stay until tea-time slumming Brighton into a 120 minute storm season just prior to the evening’s proceedings getting underway, which duly strengthens any damp odours already on offer in each venue. And Po Na Na, where we head for what appears to be some sort of Moshi Moshi freakout, is as small and on this occasion as dank as gig venues come.

James Yuill strolls awkwardly through the crowd to the stage and after begging for a few seconds of patience from the audience he treats them to his own brand of electronica; which at times, if you will excuse my ears, sounds a little bit garage-y (as in that with which you would associate DJ EZ). His vocals are a rare but welcome disturbance over long, drawn out melodies, and his gadgets and acoustic guitar intertwine unnoticeably on songs like the brilliant ‘No Pins Allowd’ and follow up ‘Over the Hills’.

The figure he cuts and his impeccable stage manner make his entire act endearing to the point where you feel obliged to grant him your full attention. What is more, the crowd treat him as if he were the Nick Drake or Jeff Buckley, greeting him with pure silence during each song rather than joining in his one man mini-rave.

Second on are Slow Club. Officially the most fun you can possibly have by simply watching good music. Their set seems longer than others, odd for something so enjoyable, but from the moment they begin picking their way through the crowd, performing unplugged, there is no denying how good they are going to be. The refreshing harmonies, real actual harmonies that singers do, make the already brilliant ‘Wild Blue Milk’ and ‘It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful’ even better. And played live in the confined spaces of Po Na Na the energy of the songs just pours out, rubbing off on the audience who respond to every silly joke Rebecca makes.

There is time for the more tender moments of ‘Thinking Drinking Sinking Feeling’ and another jaunt into the crowd for their finale. There are others who do their thing in a similar way to this pair, but as they mature and grow in confidence it is hard to see anyone doing it better.

We have already come across Casiokids earlier in the day over at Audio and they played a laid back set dominated by attempts to touch the ceiling and incessant drumming on cowbells as opposed to getting the crowd involved. The aforementioned athletic challenge and instrument remains for their evening set, but an entirely different Casiokids turn up. The long and the short of it is these Norwegians make music for the mad; but only in the way a child thinks all adults are mad. Their beats run off asking questions but not hanging around long enough to hear the answers, which is pretty handy for everyone who likes blissed out electronic indie but speaks no Norwegian.

(A song I later found out was called) ‘Gront lys I alle ledd’ is a masterpiece for your summer. Something your psychiatrist just wishes they could conjure up, listen to it and watch your cares disappear into the distance. Unimpressed at first glance, these beardy Scandinavians are addictive and completely unafraid of throwing sugary hooks over their all encompassing melodies. It won’t be long before you will be humming to cow-bells and trying to touch the ceiling.

All the over-excitement and a slightly delayed start has left the might Mae Shi with less than twenty minutes to finish their soundcheck and blast the room away. Sadly they never really get going, held back by their curfew, yet they still do their best to outdo every other band that hogged the Moshi Moshi limelight earlier in the night. The surf-punk with twee pop chants and backing vocals should fill the room past its tiny ceilings, but instead there is an element of power missing. All that said standing three feet away from the band ploughing through ‘Run To Your Grave’ and ‘Lamb and Lion’ is an experience to behold. Who are we to sit and bemoan the sound, the short set, and the band not being at their best when what we actually witnessed was bloody brilliant?

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