The Leisure Society, Bush Hall, London
Wednesday 14 January 2009
The Leisure Society were strangely absent from various lists of forthcoming stars of 2009 – which means either that they were the victims of an outrageous slight, or that the acts chosen ahead of them must be amazingly good.
So, with 50 weeks of the year still to go, perhaps the Brighton ensemble's blend of wistfulness, poise, and radiant beauty could still be nominated as a sound that will enrapture audiences in the coming months. The Mercury Prize people quickly picked up on Laura Marling, who was beginning to make waves exactly this time last year, and The Leisure Society surely have the potential to create a similar stir.
The difference with The Leisure Society is that they are already quite experienced. Their driving forces are Nick Hemming, vocals and guitar, and Christian Hardy, vocals and piano, who are in their early thirties and late twenties respectively and have been building the band up for a while. They comprise no fewer than nine members – instruments include double bass, violin, cello, flute, mandolin, glockenspiel, drums, and maracas – and the entire assemblage of people and kit barely fits on to the tiny Bush Hall stage.
Hemming's most significant work to date is as a contributor of scores to Shane Meadows movies, both men having been in the same band when they were embarking on their careers in Burton-upon-Trent. But with The Leisure Society's forthcoming debut album – The Sleeper, due out in March – wider recognition beckons.
Their first single, "The Last of the Melting Snow", was listeners' overwhelming choice for record of the week on the Radcliffe and Maconie show on Radio 2 a few weeks ago. A combination of simple piano chords, sublime vocal harmonies, and wintry romanticism gave it a timeless quality, and it's a shame it never got a look-in as a Christmas hit. But what is striking in live performance is the strength and extent of their other material. At times the spirit of Nick Drake hovers over proceedings, at others that of Leonard Cohen.
Tall, pale and bony and dressed in a blue pin-striped suit, Hemming seems to have stepped straight out of a 1930s poetry salon, an anti-hero in the Jarvis Cocker mould. Hardy is the jokier of the two. "It really smells of fear," he says of the backstage area. I'd say the only thing The Leisure Society have to fear is fear itself.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
Orange Is The New Black season 3 episode 1, review: The Ross and Rachel-ness of Piper and Alex is starting to grate
The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair at Glastonbury is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Guillaume Tell, Royal Opera House, review: Gang rape and stripping naked of female actor met with boos
Glastonbury 2015: Shocking scenes of rubbish left strewn across campsite as clean-up begins
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?