Sunday, 17 May 2009

LIVE: Bishop Allen, David Cronenberg's Wife, A Classic Education. The Windmill, Brixton, 10th May, 2009

The best thing about the Windmill isn’t the ramshackle barbeques, the affable crowd or even the headline acts that squeeze into this tiny venue, it’s the fact that no matter who it is you go there to see, there will always be a surprise gem to take home. Last night that crown fell on A Classic Education, an Italian alt-pop band touring their recently released single, the excellent Jeremy Warmsley produced ‘Best Regards’. With swathes of epic, American styled orchestral indie, they are a fun, dark and beautiful bundle.

David Cronenberg's Wife, up before the headliners, are another one of those great bands that not nearly enough people know about. Sounding like they've been transported from the 80s, their macabre lyrics are smoke tinged with a bitter, honest, comic edge.

Before heading back to America tomorrow Bishop Allen have just one last show to play and it was a treat to have them play it at the Windmill. Live they have boundless energy, relentlessly playing song after song without pausing for breath. With each new song they flutter between emotions – boisterous; angry; poetic; melancholy. The new songs sound bigger than they do on the stripped-back-to-the-bone sound of ‘Grrr’ and they delved into their past with oldies like ‘Busted Heart’ and a few tracks from their EP collections.

Bishop Allen are not big on banter, speaking only to introduce themselves, but that didn't make them any less charming and the little area in front of the stage was packed with a satisfied bunch of people by the end. It's just a shame they don't come to these shores more often.

Claire Evans