I heard Spring Offensive and Richard Walters for the first time a few days ago. They’re not the kind of thing I’d usually seek out and listen to; when I see live bands, I prefer to be battered by hot noise.
Tonight’s gig was at the Turl Street Kitchen. It’s an intimate little venue perfectly suited to acoustic gigs. I took my mate’s Zoom hand-held recorder (highly recommended for making decent live recordings) with me to make a bootleg, which I’m listening to as I write. I was sure to obtain permission from the artists, who all seemed like nice chaps (Richard politely/patiently held the door downstairs while about thirty people filed into the restaurant).
For both bands tonight the crowd was mostly seated and entirely silent. Despite his nerves (playing unplugged to a quiet room is tough), Richard’s performance was strong. His voice and his guitar both sounded great in the small, packed room. I think I prefer Richard’s stuff when it’s just him and a guitar. Playing emotionally-charged songs without making the crowd uncomfortable is a difficult task, which he managed very well. But about halfway through his set, he and I began to experience the major downside of a small venue: it gets fucking hot up there.
After a small break, Spring Offensive took the stage. As tonight’s performance was to be acoustic, their songs were substantially stripped back, particularly the drums. Much like Richard, a entire room of politely-seated listeners seemed to catch these boys off-guard, but their performance was good. Some of their lyrics are a little unconvincing, but the live harmonies were great. Despite being billed as an acoustic night, a single electric guitar was used sparingly to give the songs a little extra texture, which worked well (and that’s some sweet tone you’ve got there, Mr Bassist). Spring Offensive really managed some impressive changes in volume that were particularly effective in such a small space. A good night all round.