Wednesday 3rd November 2010

The Oates Field, eagleowl, Gummi Bako

Friday 28th January 2011 saw The Oates Field, Eagleowl and Gummi Bako play the first Limbo of 2011. Everybody stuck around until kicking out time, loads more people turned up to get down after the bands had finished and it was generally a great night!

Gummi Bako go on first and the room is already pretty full. Theirs is a very freaky kind of funk, a bit like the Happy Mondays on a collision course with Sixties legends The Grateful Dead. This impression comes mainly from lead singer Alan Bako’s vocal/lyrical style, which is not dissimilar from lead Deadhead Jelo Biafra, although when Limbo puts this to Bako after the gig he looks perplexed to say the least, so it’s clearly happened more by accident than design. Add to that combination some guitar licks that wouldn’t be out of place at a Dire Straits gig and it’s an interesting combination indeed. But, perhaps most importantly of all, Gummi Bako are a tight crew and they go down a storm with the Limbo crowd.

Next up, eagleowl drop the tempo and chill the atmosphere completely in their trademark way, with a hushed air falling over the audience like a shroud so everybody can devour their minimal compositions unhindered. And, as you would imagine from a group who coined the term The Gentle Invasion as an umbrella for all forays into recording and live music promotion, it’s all very gentle: Clarissa’s double bass, Bart’s electric guitar strums (layered by swathes of beautifully drifting reverb), and Malcolm’s mournful violin, with equally soft vocal interplay between Clarissa and Bart. Yup, there’s absolutely nothing to cloud the calming impression this self-styled ‘anti-drum-core, lo fi, post-folk ensemble’ can and (on this occasion certainly) do have on an attentive crowd. eagleowl should be back headlining their own Limbo before long. Watch this space.

The Oates Field eschew the more traditional method of starting a gig, with main man Alan Oates always opening the show solo. Actually, Alan’s not in the best health tonight, so it’s something of a test for him to launch the set without a hiccup but, like the total trooper that he is, he throws himself into it with his customary vim and vigour. The second song, Girlfriend (also a solo), apparently recalls vintage Arab Strap (not being a big Arab Stap fan, it’s difficult for Limbo to comment but there you go). Then, missed guitar pedals notwithstanding, the energy picks up enormously with Limbo hit Snakes In The Grass and it doesn’t let up during follow-up and shorter song To The Sea. The gig then takes a bit of a comedy twist, as Alan performs a mini striptease (to plug the band’s T-shirts – nice touch), tells a few jokes and asks Bart Owl to approach the stage so he can collect his very own stuffed owl. Following this with a quick request to all the ladies in the room to shout out if they’re wearing stockings (someone does actually put a hand up and call out but, err, Limbo’s sure this person is a man…!) and, having by now proven that he does indeed have his inter-song banter down pretty well, Alan then segues straight into Black Stocking Girl, lifting the room’s energy right up again, before finishing with another winner called Rocket.

So, The Oates Field are a Limbo hit once again and, as if to ram the point home, the whole crowd starts dancing as soon as the first record from the Black Spring DJs drops. And they don’t stop dancing until it’s past 1am.

And check out Scott’s video of the bands on the Limbo youtube channel.

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