Another off-piste venture for BrumLive finds us in the Queens Hall at Leicester University to see and hear Dutch Uncles in their expanded strings-enabled guise.
Sometimes it is just a sheer pleasure to turn up and see a band. They are as happy to play as their audience is to see and hear them. Dutch Uncles are like this. You get the feeling that they would put everything into it if they were invited to play in your front room.
Three albums have taken the band from an indie outfit trading on convoluted tunes to something that can be difficult to get a handle on; but excellent for all that . The newer songs can still seem like the musical equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your stomach but the range of influences seem a lot broader.
That’s not meant as a facetious remark. It’s refreshing to see a group of musicians who have the ability to play tunes that are out of the ordinary, keep everyone dancing, and do it outside a studio. In that regard they are immaculate and tight as a fish’s backside at 50 fathoms.
Likewise Liverpool’s Outfit who advertise themselves as a psychedelic pop group. I’m not too sure about the psychedelic bit but they are a pop group definitely, and one that deserves a further listen with I Want What’s Best one of their outstanding tunes.
In Duncan Wallis Dutch Uncles have a front man who moves like Ian Curtis crossed with John Travolta and dresses like an IT manager on the razz. He makes a connection with everyone straight away, flirting with the front rows and encouraging everyone to “get their wiggle on”
And boy does he move, every angle precise and sharp , feet constantly going, up one his toes at the the keyboard, simultaneously mesmerising and playful, watching the crowd intently throughout. I had warned our photographer about him but it was still amusing to see her reaction. The concentrated efforts of the other band members give him the freedom and make him the focus.
Dutch Uncles have had their fair share of Radio and TV exposure but they seem to remain just under the radar. I first saw them live this year at Leicester’s Handmade Festival. Along with The Twilght Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks they were the reason why I would rate that festival as one of my highlights of this year .
The addition of a string trio for the current tour has added another dimension. There are lots of tunes to dance to in their set but a lot of the subtlety in their music is in the arrangements. You need to listen to very note to “get it”. Eclectic doesn’t really go far enough. There is prog rock here in Gentle Giant style, Steve Reich influences in the use of vibes and jarring syncopation that would be at home in any Cardiacs tune. Add to that loops that Robert Fripp would gladly sit down for and the nod in the direction of kitsch Disco (their Record Store Day release was famously a cover of Grace Jones’s Slave To The Rhythm) and you may just cover it
They didn’t do an official encore, preferring to play the game, call a break with a nod and a wink, and then come back for a few more tunes. As far as I’m concerned they could have carried on all night.
Set List (I think)
Photos Stephanie Colledge
Words Ian Gelling