Given that I was celebrating turning 22 at the time, I thought I'd subject the crowd to a DJ set full of what I deemed 'birthday classics', which were basically, and wholly selfishly, whatever I felt like hearing at the time. So there was Prince, there was Springsteen, there was a lot of me being an idiot. But I got put rightly in my place by, firstly, something with a much more fragile exquisiteness that I could ever have dreamt would become one of the night's inarguably 'classic' moments.
Mechanical Bride, called that because one couldn't pull off music this unnervingly melancholy if one went only by her oh so pretty birth name, was just enchanting. Brave, too - starting with the minute long entirely vocal 'Chapel' to a room full of punters who, nobody knew yet, may or may not be in the mood for shutting up and listening to some intricate new folk was something of a statement of intent. It was reminiscent of when Low, faced with a crowd who'd talk over their music, used to turn their instruments down instead of up to get the crowd's attention. Because Mechanical Bride had started so quietly you see, and with a song so sparse, we had to listen. And once we'd started, given that it was followed up with tracks like 'Poor Boy' (which developed an intriguing venom about halfway through) and the wistful 'Love Is Lost', we could but stand dreamlike and let Mechanical Bride happen to us.
And just like that, she was gone, leaving us settled nicely now in to the evening, warming our cold January hearts. And even though he looks a little bit likeJack Frost (those crazy trousers aside), Thomas Truax wasn't about to do anything but add to that warmth. An act we've been enraptured with since witnessing an incendiary show in the acoustic tent at last year's Truck Nine festival, he delivered exactly the performance we'd hoped for ever since we began chasing him months back to come down and play for us. Utilising hand held fans, a charmingly temperamental and lively clockwork drum machine called 'sister spinster', an instrument known only as 'the hornicator' and, almost boringly after all of that, a good old guitar, he was quirky and creepy, tuneful and tumultuous, peculiar and brilliant all at once. The moment during 'Full Moon Over Wowtown' where he ran still singing through the Basement Club crowd and up the stairs, nearly knocking over the legendary Big Roy on the way, has but days on become the thing of Rockfeedback legend. And delighted we were to provide someone such as Thomas, an artist whose entire reputation is built on being really pretty weird, with such mass acclaim from such a warm audience. Thanks to him and you both.
Subsequently, nothing could have chilled this crowd. Not even someone as cool as Bobby Cook. So cool is Bobby that he can wear a woolly hat, INDOORS, and not look like a total idiot. We still don't think enough of ourselves to wear a scarf indoors, let alone a hat. But of course, Bob wasn't trying to chill anyone, only add to the experience. And his shimmering brand of powerful guitar pop, aided by some deft keyboard work and a penchant for emphasising every individual note in each chord so strong we've not heard it's like since 'Born To Run', won over a considerable amount of hearts that night. What's certain is that if he's got an album full of songs as cute as 'Gone So Far', he'll be inescapably massive.
'Stick around for Absentee, if they turn up' Mr Truax had said earlier in the evening, going on to mock his ability on the guitar. 'I'm embarrassed, if soundcheck's anything to go by, these guys are pretty phenomenal'. Well put, TT - when did Absentee become this bolshy rock and roll band? Crazy solos, huge choruses, chord progressions that grab you by the neck and shake you in to a dance - these things have now found a place in the Absentee songbook with the delicate and sleazy alt-country we loved them for in the first instance. As such, they sound like twice the band. We swooned to the murderous 'There's a Body in a Car Somewhere', swayed for 'Something To Bang' and were delighted as ever to hear that we were the one that they want. All I wanted, selfishly, was a classic. And thanks to all of this lot, by gum, I got it.
All photographs copyright Sol Archer. To view Sol's exhibition of Thomas Truax photos from the evening, click here.