That’s right, this site isn’t all about me!
With commitments to working late in a pub, playing my own gigs and having little money, it’s become rarer and rarer that I manage to go and see a band I truly love. I should really have written a review of the wonderful Tallest Man on Earth playing at Saint Bartholomew’s Church back in October, but alas, its been a little too long now. I will briefly say what a fantastic and unique performance that was, with Kristian Matsson performing completely solo, his gruff voice and intricate guitar work echoing out into the huge, brick church. It was a beautiful and haunting performance, and a gig I will never forget.
The latest artists I have had the pleasure of seeing in Brighton are the North Carolina band Crooked Fingers. Fronted by Eric Bachman (of 90’s indie rock band Archers of Loaf), the band has an ever changing line-up and a sound that is always evolving. Their latest album, Breaks in the Armour, was released last year in America, and the band are in the UK promoting and releasing it for us lucky Brits. I’d seen a few local bands at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar but never anyone from the US, and certainly never anyone I had been following for over 5 years, so I was particularly excited about this gig. When arriving at the small basement venue I was initially surprised, and worried, by how sadly empty it was – but it ended up being an incredibly intimate and moving show.
Stripped down to just two members – Bachman on Spanish guitar accompanied by the occasional subtle electric guitar and a female singer – this simple line-up really highlighted the quality of Bachman’s songs and guitar work, proving just as powerful a solo (almost) as they do on record with the full band. An early highlight was “Man o’ War” with delicate, finger-picked guitar work, and Bachman’s gruff and soft voice, providing a fine opening to the show. The stand-out track from the new album, “Bad Blood“, had the same raw energy it has on record with excellent harmonies and catchy hooks. The unbelievably pretty duet “Sleep All Summer” provided an amazing mid-set moment, but the main highlights were when the pair stepped off the stage and played completely unplugged. Fan favourite “New Drink for the Old Drunk” sounded better than ever stripped down to just Spanish guitar and un-amplified vocals, and “So Long Savannah’s” semi-hopeful lyrics and slidey guitar was another highlight. Bringing the set to a heartbreaking close was another older track, “You Must Build a Fire“, also done completely unplugged, with Bachman standing alone in a half-circle of loyal fans – proving that a good old fashioned acoustic love song can still move and bring a room full of people to silence.
Crooked Fingers are an excellent band and lovely people (Bachman was kind enough to have a chat afterwards and give me a set-list) and I highly recommend you check them out. I hope they will return to the UK soon. Check them out!