Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fortuna POP! presents Club 8 + The Would-Be-Goods + The School at the Luminare turned out to be a more pleasant experience than I anticipated. Not that I thought it would be bad, but it's pretty much the third time in my life I've gone to a concert/gig on my own (the first two being Red Hot Chili Peppers and Michael Buble, just to illustrate how wide-ranging my musical tastes are) and definitely the first time I've been to such an intimate venue by myself.

The Luminaire, apparently one of the best music venues in London according to Time Out, was very cozy; I didn't feel threatened in the least being an obviously lone female there. It's also not so incredibly warm that I had to hang my coat up in the cloakroom (not because I was stingy, but because I didn't figure out till after the gig that the musical merchandise area was also the cloakroom). No food was served although if you arrive early enough, I imagine you can eat at The Kilburn, the restaurant below the venue, which looks pretty interesting based on the web site alone. The bar served a number of beers - as do all bars in London - but I chose to nurse a single Corona (GBP3.20) the whole night as the merchandise store was cash-only. Apologies for that, guys, but I didn't want to lose my spot on the floor just because I had to use the facilities.

I'll admit going for the gig by myself wasn't as easy as I made it sound, but the venue was quite welcoming, even if I didn't talk to anyone else. And being there, listening to the kind of music that friend back home (as well as some TV shows, such as The O.C.) had introduced me too... well, it was a little bittersweet. I was glad to be there, but it hurt to not have that friend there with me.

I arrived at The Luminaire around 8.15 pm, grabbing a Cornish pasty from a nearby Costcutters to eat for dinner (thereby undoing all the good of my vegetarian Wednesday), hoping I had arrived in time to catch The School, which had been described as somewhat reminiscent of The Pipettes. The band - well, rather, a one-woman project of Liz of The Loves with some additional members, I guess - came on at around 8.30 pm. Their music was quite nice on the ear, rather, well, twee sounding (at the risk of sounding pretentious, which I'm not, really). Among the songs they played were Valentine (their new single, scheduled to be released on Valentine's Day, oddly enough) and Kiss in the Snow (their Christmas and New Year single, which is really nice and sweet and Christmas-sy but not overly so).

Next up was The Would-Be-Goods, which I gathered was a Luminaire regular. The lead singer, Jessica, had just regained her voice the day before, so the effects were still apparent. The bass drum was also a little on the strong side, so even though I was quite near the front, her vocals were sometimes overpowered completely. I didn't like them as much as I liked The School, but, overall, a pretty decent band.

After that was the main act everyone had been waiting for - Club 8. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't know a thing about Club 8 except that a certain friend of mine really loves them, and he told me that I ought to go see them when I mentioned they were playing in London while going through a gig guide of what's on in this city. The first thought I had was - it's a really large group as there were six people on stage. I hadn't realised that they're primarily a duo and had probably added some people just for performing purposes. In any case, yes, I thought it was a large group and also wondered why, if they were from Sweden, only one third of them had blond hair. I notice things like that.

But, I digress.

The duo seemed a little shy and reticent at first, but after a few songs, they started interacting with the crowd a bit more. I got the impression main singer Karolina was a little overwhelmed by the crowd and their warm response to the band coming on. Rather sweet, really. There was also a nice moment when Johan, the other member of the duo, got some laughs when he said, in his quaint Swedish way, "I would like to thank The School for borrowing me this guitar. I am quite getting into it. Might keep it."

Club 8's choice of songs was quite varied that night. They played a number from their previous albums including Everlasting Love and Love in December (a song which Karolina indicated was a song she both loves and hates as she recognises a bit of herself in the lyrics) and at least three from their most recent album, The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming (which gets released in the UK tomorrow, I believe): Whatever You Want, Jesus, Walk With Me, and Heaven. The encore consisted of Johan singing Saturday Night Engine (telling the people in the crowd who were obviously way more familiar with the band's work that he wasn't going to sing The Smiths).

Overall, I found their sound very nice and dreamy; some songs were a little melancholic and wistful while others were kind of cheerful in a slightly jangly kind of way. The one song which really captured me was Jesus, Walk With Me, a song which I felt had it all: a great tune, incredible vocals and fantastic lyrics. The melody starts off simple and delicate and Karolina's vocals are really wistful and yearning. I loved the lyrics as well with the chorus going, "Fool me into believing/I don't care if you're deceiving me/I wouldn't want it any other way/'Cos then I'd only stay the same" before kicking into the second verse, still wistful and questioning with "If God made me/Would Jesus save me?" I can't quite put into words why I loved the tune but suffice it to say that the band's performance left me breathless, and I ended up buying the album simply based on the strength of that song.

Whatever You Want and Heaven, in contrast to Jesus, Walk With Me, are all together happier tunes. Definitely tunes for summer, as opposed to the cold, grey winter we're having now. They kind of reminded me of Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folk, nicely happy and jangly.

All in all, it was a great night. I'd travelled for close to an hour from my workplace to get to the venue, and had another hour to go before I got home, but it was worth it. The price was great - under GBP9 inclusive of the booking fee, and I ended up going home with seven CDs: Elefant - Happy New Year 2008 (four songs including The School - Kiss in the Snow and My Little Airport - Por and Macho Got Married (a Cantonese (!) indie ditty)), Club 8 - The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming and a grab bag of five albums from Where It's At Is Where you Are for a fiver.

If you have the chance to go catch Club 8 or The School (apparently, Club 8 will be performing in Singapore on January 23rd), you really ought to go catch them. I can't see how anyone would fail to fall in love with their sound, especially if you love indie, twee or dream pop.

Related Links:
Club 8 - MySpace
Pitchfork: Club 8 - Jesus, Walk With Me
Pitchfork reviews Club 8 - The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming
The School - MySpace
The Would-Be-Goods' Official Web-Page

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