When the number of staff at a gig are more plentiful than members of the audience it’s easy to assume that the portents are suggesting a disappointing night’s entertainment is in the offing. As ever in life though there are always exceptions to the rules – and this is certainly one of those occasions.
While Reading based Poor Michael are obviously not yet blessed with an abundance of followers in Bristol, do not despair for the self-pitying titled three-piece for it is clear from early on that they will soon be drawing many more faces than this.
Comprising Andrew Bingham (Guitar & Vocals), Jack Pearce (Bass & Vocals), and Chris Crouch (Drums) they blend jazz wig outs with psychedelic interludes and more contemporary styles to form a fairly unique sound that has been described by BBC Introducing as “Arabic Danger Funk”.
Bingham’s mercury guitar sound has flavours of Johnny Marr and Hank Marvin and is impeccably executed throughout – a game of Guitar Hero would certainly be short lived and utterly one sided given his flawless dexterity.
Pearce’s curly locks match his distinctively curly guitar lead and his expressive bass/brooding English voice haunts the melodic interplaying whilst Chris Couch sits silently at the back of the stage wearing a skull and cross bones t-shirt perhaps in homage to Bristol’s pirate heritage.
“Shiver” is emblematic of their style with its languid Nick Drake elegance offset by Arctic explosions and is at its core so quintessentially English it should be enjoyed over high tea and crumpets – it certainly recalls The Libertines in their jazzier moments.
“This one is ‘Fickle feat. Fickle’” explains Pearce. “Well I think that’s next…I can’t see the sheet” he states before Bingham once again takes on lead vocals. It’s perhaps their best tune of the night and once more highlights their meandering jazz style combined with crackling choruses, distorted intensity and is bound together with fine interplaying between the trio.
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Next up is “Shame” which sees Bingham change guitar to a blood red electro/acoustic and boasts another catchy chorus. “It’s a shame, shame, shame” mourns Pearce, the real shame being the lack of atmosphere/crowd here to enjoy the proceedings.
In “Bitter and Bold”, their final number of the night, they indicate that they “wanna go to the unknown”. Something that they have no doubt achieved in their sound which has few peers in the current music scene –perhaps Leicestershire’s Wave Pictures being closest in style.
Overall it’s a snowball of a set, gaining momentum all the time leading to a compelling conclusion.
One can only hope that a broader recognition of Poor Michael, reflecting their laudable musical talent, will gain similar traction sooner rather than later.
A new EP is to be released in late 2013 so check them out her to fin d out more: www.poormichael.co.uk
Review by Kevin McGough
While you’re here… The Fix is delighted to support independent film and to be involved with comedy/drama series The Awkward Conversations We Have. Here’s the opener, titled, Son We’re Swingers: