17th February 2015
On a night when the pre-gig bustle of the Colston Hall foyer and the employ of extra security staff are indications of the triumphant return of local hero George Ezra, something rather lower key was going on in the building’s smaller second room. While Ezra, in little more than a year, has experienced an ascent of vertiginous proportions (a UK number one album in 2014 and a current UK tour all but sold out) Leicestershire trio The Wave Pictures have been crafting away in the shadows and building cult audiences for the best part of fifteen years.
The 300 capacity Lantern and the near 2000 capacity main hall are clear symbols of these contrasting fortunes but, if the theory stands that the sentience of an audience is inverse to the number of people in it, one feels vindicated in separating from the heaving throng and into the intimacy of the Lantern; the sight of local eccentric Big Jeff’s hulking Honey Monster presence at the front is further evidence that this is indeed the room for the discerning music fan.
New song ‘We Fell Asleep in the Blue Tent’ with its mildly distorted ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ style guitar thrash kicks things off before the indie strum along of ‘Tiny Crates in the Sand’ features the first of three drum solo spots and a slow build up to Tattersall seeing the song out with a blistering attack on his guitar.
Tattersall then welcomes the crowd, and with his usual effortless charisma comments on the huge picture of Lemmy facing towards him from above: “This place does have the feel of a church and he is pretty much the closest thing to a rock Jesus.” He then introduces the Modern Lovers influenced new single ‘I Can Hear the Telephone (3 Floors Above me)’ with a sardonic quip that it is “Storming up the charts as we speak.”
With new album Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon released just a day ago, The Wave Pictures are sparing with their latest material and play a solid balance of old and new songs. Recent single ‘Pea Green Coat’ is perhaps the best we hear of the new tracks; its driving chords, bass solo and the sing-along simplicity of its chorus make it a joyously mindless racket. Another basic sing-along comes in the form of a cover of Daniel Johnston’s ‘I Killed the Monster’ which includes some spirited backing vocals by drummer Johnny Helm; a man who seems forever on the precipice of achieving the mathematical impossibility of having gave 110%.
Elsewhere, the gorgeous melodic bounce of a Graceland-era Paul Simon style guitar riff heralds in the beautifully wistful ode to childhood ‘Before This Day’; containing Alan Bennett-esque minutiae (“Mum steadies the ladder with a slippered foot”) it is an absorbing image of vicarious nostalgia. The set, chock full of songs that are extended to essentially serve as a platform for Tattersall’s considerable guitar talents, is broken up by occasional spots for Helm to deliver lead vocals; ‘Atlanta’, aided by Tattersall’s harmonies, is a charming interlude and he takes leave of his drum kit to perform old favourite ‘Now You Are Pregnant’.
The Wave Pictures have both a tight musical chemistry and a palpable ease of friendship that can only come from many years of performing; this manifests itself tonight with extended instrumental jams of octave spanning solos from bassist Franic Rozycki, incessantly busy drumming from Helm and lightning guitar work from Tattersall. The only thing, however, that prevents Tattersall from true greatness as a guitarist is an occasional tendency for prolonged noodling for its own sake; such moments as with the quick-fire riffing of the slightly cheesy country hoedown of ‘The Easter Parade’ and the circling picked strings of the evening’s first encore track ‘Spaghetti’ reveal a rather more tasteful sense of economy.
Ending the evening with their customary taking of requests, The Wave Pictures play a four song encore in a gargantuan 90 minute set. Earlier in the evening Tattersall joked that Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon had reached No.91 in the album chart and thus sold anything from 15-60 copies. It is a sarcastic statement that reveals a jovial acceptance of the band’s place in the world; they’ll never sell out the main hall like Ezra did this evening but they’ll remain as charming as ever in intimate rooms filled with a knowing few.