The Understudies – The Lexington (30 March 2014)

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Having previously been tickled by The Understudies, and it having been a bit quiet on the gig front for a bit, I decided to haul ass north for their gig to launch debut album Let Desire Guide Your Hand.

It’s Sunday, and an early gig (6 o’clock doors).  It’s also the day the clocks went forward.  And, I some sort of engineering works going on.  So, by the time I get there, the second support act are finishing their set.

The Understudies’ particular brand of indie is well crafted songs, with whip-smart lyrics (I’m assuming from the few that I catch in detail, the titles certainly are).  There’s a definite classic shape to their compositions.  Redolent of girl-groups and 50’s pop.  I find myself thinking they remind me of someone that Nick Lowe would’ve produced, but can’t really put my finger on who.  I mean that in the best possible way.

The band have dual boy/girl vocals.  The former, with an interesting, breathy, falsetto.  However, he’s poorly tonight, so maybe not in full throttle.  So when the female keyboard player takes on the vocal duties, the songs seem to work better.  Just a little more powerful.  A few songs in, and they start to have more of a dual vocal thing going on.  Another piece of the familiarity clicks into place an I realise I’ve been reminded of The Beautiful South.

I always feel awkward when using a comparison to another band to describe one.  At best, for me, it looks like lazy shorthand.  For the band, accusations of being derivative.  But, all rock ‘n’ roll is derivative.  By definition.  The baroque and jazz have just as many conventions and tropes.  And, although reminiscent of Heaton & Co, we’re not talking parody or direct lift.

The are joined about half way through by A Little Orchestra to add (as the name suggests) a little strings etc to what their doing. To be honest, the definition is a little lost(chestra boom-tsch!) over the amplified instruments, but they do manage to at least fill the sound out a bit.

Seeing as it’s their big night, the band are going to have an encore.  They tell us this.  Mainly so we don’t leave.  They didn’t have to, they are brought back on stage to rapturous applause.  They can probably chalk this one up as a win.


Written by Tony Kiernan

01 April 2014 at 7:03 pm

Posted in Gigs, London, Music

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