Friday, September 28, 2018

Hope and Social at the Borderline

I thought I'd made loads of notes at this gig but actually I spent most of the time simply enjoying the music- and isn't that exactly how it should be?
This was the ten year anniversary of Hope & Social, and The Borderline was packed with what seemed like half of Leeds (was Leeds empty on Thursday evening?). The crowd was excited, loyal, and delighted to sing along whenever they were invited to, and sometimes even when they weren't. There was a running joke about Steve Lamacq, who was there for the first band and who had played a track 19 years ago, inspiring Simon to tell his father that he was bound to get a major deal, and even as the words left his mouth he realised what an arsehole he sounded. Pecan cookies were shared around the audience, and the songs flowed out of the band, many of them punctuated by richly-arranged harmonies that made you realise that they'd work just as well without the instruments, and that's the sign of a really good song. They were augmented by Megan on the trombone, who fitted in perfectly with the trumpet and sax that they normally have; her imagined iPad instructions were to just move about a bit whenever she wasn't playing. There were cheesy jokes aplenty: the song about the end of the word was described as an apocalypso by Rich (audience groaned, I laughed). A new song was presented with characteristic self-deprecation ('it might alienate the fan'), and the entire audience was offered a travel-paid excursion to Leeds to see the band in March, because that made it cheaper than the band coming to London.
Halfway through, they left the stage; the bass player picked up a euphonium, Gary (who drums for them but who is also a talented singer songwriter in his own right) wore a portable kit and a bunch of ukuleles appeared as if by magic. They turned into a New Orleans marching band, occasionally offered a sip of beer or wine by audience members, and they sang and played in a crocodile through the delighted crowd.
They all appear to be multi-instrumentalists; you blink and one of them is playing something completely different apparently just as well as their first instrument.
Such energy! The audience were wildly enthusiastic, cheering all through the self-declared 'fake last song' for a well-deserved encore.
What a bunch of characters, and what a great evening. This is the second time I've seen them, and they have to be one of the most entertaining bands on the circuit.
They made me feel happy. Thank you.

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