At 8pm Pushing Hands are pushing it for time – perhaps waiting for more people to show up to this so-far virtually empty upstairs room at the Old Blue Last.
Finally they walk onstage, sullen-faced and much younger than expected, and open with the uplifting and danceable Bully. Gradually, as the sound no doubt filters through the floor to the rest of the pub, people begin to turn up.
The band continue to look glum – lead singer, Freddie Webb, barely looks up from the mic – but the noise they’re making is exuberant. Freddie’s voice is similar to that of Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman. His delivery is passionate and fierce, but humble.
What really stands out during Pushing Hands’ live set is the importance of their bass lines. They are almost melodic, carrying the rhythm-strong and lightly-picked guitar lines.
It all comes to an end frustratingly soon. As Freddie announces their last track as a new one, it becomes clear that we won’t be hearing their best and most lively song, Cold Hands. Nevertheless the new track is excellent – calm and relaxed, yet wonderfully upbeat. There is now a reasonably-sized gathering in the room, and everyone is impressed.
Fittingly, Evryone (sic) is the next band on. They give a concerning first impression: they are three very tall, long-haired young men whose stage set-up includes a rainbow-striped guitar strap, an amusing furry cow-print-covered bass amp and a scarf draped over the mic stand. It becomes easy to expect a somewhat hippy-ish sound.
What happens next is seriously unexpected. Bouncy piano-pop blasts out of the speakers and keyboardist, Tom Andrews, belts out a high-pitched voice inextricably similar to that of Johnny Whitney from American post-hardcore band, The Blood Brothers.
Their sound is erratic and loud, but incredibly catchy. Drummer, Chris Banner is captivating: his movements are twitchy and sporadic, making every drumbeat snap and suggesting his playing to be almost improvised.
Evryone are a band you’ll either love or hate, but the majority tonight appear impressed.
As is soon given away by their accents, headliners Let’s Buy Happiness have travelled all the way from Newcastle to entertain us tonight. From the moment their beautiful lead singer, Sarah Hall, introduces them she has everyone’s attention. She is difficult to ignore from then on, as she casually fills the room with her powerful and quirky voice.
Every member of the band concentrates hard on their own instrument, as they use wonderfully syncopated rhythms to create a sophisticated wall of noise style. Like Pushing Hands, they expertly use bass lines to bring extra melody and movement to the tracks.
Throughout the set, Sarah is desperate to get some reaction out of this mild-mannered audience, shouting to get a response to ‘how are you’. But the music alone has got people hooked as the band play with rhythms and speeds to create joyous and original little songs.
They choose Six Wolves as a finale, which just happens to have the best guitar and bass lines of the set. It all ends with Sarah screaming her final lyric as the band descend into racket-making. It’s an energetic outro to a slow-starting night.