A Reading and Leeds (oh go on then, Carling Weekend, if we must) warm up, already? Lord, it only feels a matter of minutes since we were wiping the mud from our eyes at V, and yet here we all are, getting in the mood to go through it all again. A few differences, however - the Buffalo Bar looks, as ever, as stylish as it gets for the likes of us. I'm wearing brown segments of Chelmsford on my jeans still and I feel like I'm letting the side down. Also, the quality of the music at times can arguably rival anything we'll see all weekend. And I'm not just talking about me putting on 'The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich', either.
First up, Jeremy Warmsley in the unfamiliarly sparse surroundings of his lone self on a stage accompanied only by a guitar, keyboard and a laptop that doesn't seem to be his friend. Despite his entire band rumoured to be present, looking on at how their conductor fares when left to his own devices, brave Mr Warmsley gives his all to a solo set, despite technical difficulties with a pesky iBook threatening to scupper the whole segment of entertainment early on. However, even if it's only for a few more years, man remains mightier than the machine, and this crashing, that freezing and the other performing illegal operations cannot scupper the fact that in '5 Verses' Warmsely has penned a melody as strong as anything in living, sober memory, in 'Dirty Blue Jeans' he has a tale of young ambition more convincing in its assuredness than anything since punk rock and in 'The Young Man Sees The City as a Chessboard', the lad J-Wo constructs a jittery, Scott Walker dabbling in Aphex Twin-like curiosity that's as much of a joy to listen to as it is difficult to figure out. These, and many others, overcome the perils of laptop difficulties. He looks utterly infuriated that they didn't all go as smoothly as they should. Everyone else looks delighted to have just heard those songs.
The glee continues when the The Rumble Strips amble on to the stage, one looking like a hardened sea dog, another like a lumberjack, one holding a guitar that appears to be thoroughly knackered yet still produces this incredible tone (musicians in the audience spend the rest of the night confusedly discussing exactly how he manages it), and launch in to songs that remind us that, in these damp and overcast times, the brilliant height of summer was only a few weeks ago, and it was bloody brilliant. As they have done at previous Basement Clubs, yet this time arguably with even more success, they deliver songs that share the anthemic qualities of the E Street Band, doused with some humble, mild self deprecation that can only endear them further to an indie community who normally wouldn't dream of listening to anything that had two brass instruments in it, combining all that with an energy that bands like Larrikin Love and the Mystery Jets are also currently tapping in to with equally superb consequences. And all that after it was one of their stag do's the night before. Result.
Plan B's got this down now - whereas the last time he firmly stamped his arrival on the rockfeedback radar, at a Basement that also featured the aforementioned Larrikin and Josh Pearson, he was there with but a drummer and accompanying his rhymes with minimal but crushingly effective use of an acoustic guitar, tonight sees a DJ and bass player added to the ensemble, and he's never sounded more forceful. That he divided opinion will be of no surprise to anyone who has witnessed both the work of Plan B and the average audience of a Basement Club, but in an important way, that was precisely the point. Newly more heavily instrumentated compositions like album title track 'Who Needs Actions When You Got Words' sat happily (though it feels queer to use the word in a Plan B review) alongside his already lauded, stripped back compositions such as 'No More Eatin' and 'No Good', the boy Ben completely lost in his own tales and tirades, and the Buffalo Bar unable to take their eyes from off of him.
Photo Credit -
Jeremy Warmsley / The Rumble Strips - Patricia L Brown
Plan B - Charlie Mines