Gig review: POLYPHONIC SPREE Clapham Grand, Friday 6th June 2014

First time at the Clapham Grand, a regal Victorian theatre that was refurbished back in 2010 (although the carpets have that student union feel underfoot) and has seen legends like Charlie Chaplin grace its stage. Impressive venue and a good sound with no darn pillars getting in your view like some other venues.

First support act were a three piece the Plastic Dots who were listenable enough indie pop.  They reminded me of the sort of band Dermot O’Leary has on his BBC Radio 2 show in session, easy on the ear but ultimately you wouldn’t follow up and seek out their music.

MT (Many Things) however were a different proposition, a four piece consisting of synths, guitar/bass and a Dave Grohl look-a-like on drums, they were fronted by a lively vocalist who seemed totally at ease working the crowd. Cracking set of tunes taking 80′s synth pop and the OTT side of say Foxy Shazham and Mika. This is why folks never miss a support band as once in awhile you will discover a gem like MT. I am a fan now :)

Now anyone who knows my musical taste will know I have always been a sucker for a decent melody regardless of musical labels (well bar jazz which is best left to strange men in beards), so a band like the Polyphonic Spree tick many boxes as they mix in ELO, the pop rock of say Cheap Trick, quirkiness of Sparks, Beachboys melodies, gospel, psychedelia and very uplifting melodies.

This is a slightly slimmed down version with only four in the choir, although there are still fourteen musicians on stage tonight. Led by the charismatic frontman Tim De Laughter, they start off behind a white sheet spread across the stage as aforementioned frontman spray paints on ‘We All Win Tonight’ on the sheet, before cutting through it with a pair of scissors and then the music is off and running. Mind you they were ushered on by a town crier so anything goes I guess!

‘It’s The Sun’ and ’2,000 Miles’ really had the audience going from the off and the whole band seem to quickly find their musical stride. ‘Running Away’ was one of those songs I can listen to again and again, such an uplifting melody and a true hairs rising on the back of your neck moment.

They do like a cover and attacked the Wings classic ‘Live and Let Die’ with glee, with a headbanging female cellist not something you see everyday… I am not sure of the mid-set song bit it did see my attention waiver slightly a little too much psychedelia for me. It got a little disco as the night wore on with a mirror ball coupled with the balloons being bounced around by the audience.

‘Light & Day’ (the one song many will know as it was featured on ‘Scrubs’) closed the night in fine style. A fitting finale and I am not sure the band nor the audience had much energy left after a lively, fun and enjoyable concert. You really can’t beat the live music experience and the Polyphonic Spree certainly know how to celebrate the positive and melodic side of music, a great night’s entertainment.

Review by Jason Ritchie


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