There are always exceptions, of course, and as I have grown older those exceptions have often become particularly sparkling memories. They have also usually centred on shows where I’ve had a nice comfy seat in a sensible theatre rather than standing on the sticky floor of a grimy pub, but that’s another story entirely.
This year there were two shows that stood out (neither, it must be said, with comfy seats): the utterly beautiful acoustic set by The Clientele at the Hangover Lounge in London that I made reference to a few days ago (the only downside of which was the frankly disappointing performance by The Cavalcade beforehand. If someone had told me it was going to be a Brighter tribute band I would have stayed downstairs with my beer, thanks very much. See, I can still be a miserable old grump...) and The Pastels / Tenniscoats on the Thekla in Bristol. A hearty thumbs up also goes to the mighty Wave Pictures show on the same boat back in the summer, though again, the appallingly twee and shambolic support effort deducts points.
But yes, Pastels / Tenniscoats. Stephen making quips about Jon Bon Jovi and smiling at my Frida Hyvonen t-shirt. A set so beguiling that I will admit it caught me off-guard, for at that point I had yet to hear the Two Sunsets record and had frankly never been blown away by what I had heard of Tenniscoats. Two Sunsets however was a peach of a record, blending artful experimentation and minimalist Japanese childlike aesthetic with a sharp ear for a seductive tune and the matured esoteric instrumentation of a group grown comfortable in their singular awkwardness. It was a soft triumph of a record; a record that took apart its various influences and cultural contexts and put them back together in ways that were at once splendidly new and gloriously familiar. From such a collection of delights though this album closing track was my favourite, not least for hearing Katrina sing ‘loch’, and for the way in which the group really do sound like one. No mean feat.Pastels/Tenniscoats - 'Start Slowly So We Sound Like a Loch'