Crevecoeur, Stanley & Jeremy Wheatley – Cafe Drummond – Sunday 9th May 2010
I first came across headline act Crevecoeur quite by chance – I attended a gig by The Low Lows at Drummonds having seen them previously in The Tunnels, and Crevecoeur were in support. I loved their music immediately and after getting hold of their 2 albums to date they have been a constant fixture on my iPod ever since, so I was very happy to learn that they were returning to Aberdeen as headline act.
In the event, I almost managed to end up forgetting about this gig – a Saturday night poker game involving too many beers led to a day vegetating in front of the television watching movies and the intent for the evening was to continue in this vein with an Indian takeaway for sustenance, however, come mid-afternoon I thankfully remembered I was supposed to be heading out so a quick shower was required to freshen up my mind.
Arrived at Drummonds at about 8:15 and things were not looking good attendance-wise. It was early days, but the only people to be seen were the sound man and what I took to be support band members and hangers-on. Drummonds itself has had quite a makeover since I last visited, the sticky-out bit of the bar that used to cause an immediate bottleneck on descending the stairs has been removed and so the place looks much bigger. There seems to have been a bit of decorating going on as well, it’s a vast improvement.
The first act arrived on stage about 9, I suspect he had been hoping for an increase in paying customers but unfortunately there hadn’t been too much of an influx. Jeremy Wheatley was drummer for The Low Lows and is accompanying Crevecoeur as drummer for this tour whilst also performing as a solo support act. Simple guitar and vocals was the set-up and he presented a very affable stage presence, with references to his previous visits and warnings on the perils of eating too much pasta pre-gig. I enjoyed his music but as is often the case with this kind of act I found myself wanting a bit more variation, so when the trumpet player from Crevecoeur joined him on one song it was a nice diversion.
Next up were Stanley, a local act whose name I had heard but who I had never previously seen or indeed heard. Things started off well with opening number ‘Join Hands’ with a dual vocal intro leading into a style I hadn’t expected and which proved very satisfying. In a local scene dominated by metal, punk and indie-guitar bands, Stanley stand apart – I certainly haven’t heard anyone else doing this sort of thing locally. They have a very ‘cinematic’, retro sound that recalls the work of John Barry and Scott Walker. The singer has a very dramatic vocal style that immediately brings to mind Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, the aforementioned Scott Walker, Marc Almond and Scotland’s own Billy MacKenzie. On one song he lets loose some pretty amazing vocal acrobatics with seemingly little effort. The band were tight as hell and backing tracks used to flesh out the sound, at times consisting of a simple introductory bubbling sound effect, at other times adding washes of instrumentation. Totally up my street and I will be watching out for future gigs. A brief chat with the bass player post-gig revealed that they are hoping to get some recording completed in the near future….I look forward to hearing the results.
And so onto the main act, Crevecoeur. The venue had become a bit busier as the night progressed but still sadly represented a lesser audience than this band deserve. They are largely instrumental and their music recalls the Spaghetti Western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone, the instrumental interludes that appeared on the early albums of Calexico and also possesses a bit of The Dirty Three for good measure – that’s pretty much my ideal band right there. The last time I saw them they were a 3-piece, while as mentioned earlier they had expanded on this occasion to include a drummer – intermittent drumming duties on their previous visit I seem to recall were fulfilled by the trumpet player. I think I actually preferred the band arrangement on their previous visit – there was nothing to fault in the drummers playing but I found that the volume of the drums detracted from the delicacy of some of the music. The band switches between instruments with ease – throughout the gig there were multiple guitars, violin, trumpet, keyboard, melodica, assorted glockenspiels and even a theremin used, often switching back and forth between these in the course of a single piece of music – a talented bunch, make no mistake. The set opened with a few tracks from the new tour EP before proceeding into older album highlights such as ‘We Leave the Ranch’, ‘La Pieuvre’ and ‘El Matador 2′. The remainder of the set was a mixture of new and old before closing with ‘Le Tactic Du Titan’, one of the highpoints of the 2nd album which slowly winds down until 3 glockenspiels are played in unison to bring things to an almost lullaby-like close.
The band remained on stage for an encore of another new song, ‘De La Neige Sur Les Marches’, before closing with an accapella rendition of ‘Goodnight’ which saw the guitar amplification shut down and band members congregating on the floor in front of the stage. It was a rather nice touch spoilt somewhat by some latecomers who proceeded to stand loudly chatting at the bar, apparently oblivious to the fact there were people trying to play music.
An excellent night that for a mere £6 represented a bargain in my book, just a shame there weren’t more people there, the curse of Sunday night strikes again. Godzilla Blues
Jeremy Wheatley MySpace