Broken Family Band, Luminaire, London

4.00

'The weather man said it's colder than Antarctica," singer Steve Adams says, thanking the crowd for turning up. Broken Family Band are never without a dedicated following – they comfortably sell out large venues like KOKO and Scala – but it's actually the intimate atmosphere of smaller spaces (albeit packed tonight) that suits them best. Four albums and eight years into their career, the four piece have found themselves without a record label; despite the critical praise showered on them, the band members have proudly kept their day jobs throughout.

Their last album, in 2007, Hello Love, was their liveliest to date, building on the alt-country of their earlier releases, but tonight they play only a sprinkling of songs from it, preferring to dip into earlier and new material. If their moniker refers to dysfunctional families, the band are anything but. Adams does not stalk the limelight; whenever the drummer or excellent lead guitarist have a prominent part, he turns to face them, his back to the crowd. Attention focuses on drummer Mick Roman in "Son of the Man" when he builds up the drums, his sticks pointing in awkward directions as he raps the cymbals and drums at an impressive pace.

"Borrowed Time" gets cheers of recognition and is an exhilarating rowdy live version that almost drowns out the vocals. They hurtle through "Booze and the Drugs", another lively song led by Adams' strumming.

The sardonic lyrics of "St Albans" amuse – it's hardly as though they hail from the coolest of cities, being from Cambridge. They specialise in this kind of irony, helped along by the deadpan delivery of their likeable front man who proves himself the natural entertainer when the bass runs into problems and puts the music on hold.

"If we've ever done an earnest song it is probably this one," Adams says before they launch into "Hey Captain!" Shimmering guitar bursts into full heart-warming sound. But "John Belushi" is just as affecting. The gentle touching alt-country song is saved for the encore, its playful intelligent lyrics best displaying the band's knack for penning human tales of life, and the troubled relationships and regrets that come with it.

When the crowd starts to sing along to the chorus it's the most moving and joyous moment of the show. On such a cold winter's night, Broken Family Band excel in warming up the crowd before they brace the colder-than-Antarctica air.

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea