Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014

Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014Pete Fij and Terry Bickers + I Am Ampersand @ The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry 23rd July 2014

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Somewhere there should be a study of how the members of successful musical partnerships get together. Some may meet at school, some may be related or even share the same tastes in confectionary. As Pete Fij said in his introduction to Parallel Girl:

“I went in for a doughnut, and came out with Terry Bickers”

As an existentialist introduction to the intricacies of quantum physics go, this has to take some beating but in the end it was not that unusual when mixed in with stories of a childhood in Guildford and the appearance of a glove puppet bear named Electricity Board who ended up playing Terry Bickers’ guitar.

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For two guys who were the front men of their respective oufits back in the heady days of 90s Indie, Pete and Terry divide their responsibilities up in line with their personalities. Pete acts as the focus and the commentator, and Terry as the introspective one; Pete the rhythm, Terry the lead; Pete funny, Terry serious.

Adorable and Levitation may be distant memories for a lot of people, and these guys have obviously kept themselves busy in the interim, but you can still hear echoes of both of those bands in the stuff that they do. It wouldn’t hurt them to have Terry do a bit more of the singing but they blend very well indeed.

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It appears that Pete is an advocate of the use of the long drawn out and convoluted tale as an introduction to a tune. These were entertaining on first hearing and the regulars greeted each one warmly as well as the changes and Terry’s reactions to them. In some ways it was like he was hearing them for the first time himself.

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Heat and strings rarely go well together and the intimate club setting of The Tin Music and Arts Centre certainly had a fair bit of the heat. This called for a good deal of in-song tuning, particularly for Terry. Located in the Canal Basin area of Coventry, this place is new to me but it’s obviously been around as a venue for a while. It’s also on the 2-Tone Trail with at least one of the blue plaques on show in the area. Which is coincidental as Pauline Black was in the audience, allegedly, but this celeb-spotting opportunity passed us by. For non-locals the Basin can be tricky to find but it didn’t stop a good turnout who appeared to be a mixture of fans and friends, and probably both.

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Adorable were a Coventry Band of sorts, playing their first gig in the Tic Toc Club, a place beloved of many Kovvers which eventually emerged as another music venue in city, The Kasbah. So it’s no surprise that Pete has a following here and there were a fair few kickstarter badges on show amongst the fans who helped fund the Broken Heart Surgery album. The good news is that there will be another and Pete promised that it would not take five years like the last one. Hailing from the South Coast these days, the two of them ought to have ample opportunities to get a few tunes down.

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Another member of the Brighton conglomerate, “&”, or Ampersand, (or Matt Hainsby to give him his real title) opened for the duo, helped by Alyson Hambalek. In his I Am Apersand guise (he is the “&” in Fujiya & Mayagi) he was not what I expected given the style of music evident in his day job. Admittedly there were some effects and beats but the songs were characterised by his high tenor and sparse guitar. Songs like 20 Seas and 4 oceans are basically the blues, complete with soft shoe in the background. Personally I preferred the three tunes he did with Alyson, but it was all good.

So what about our friend Electricity Board? He plays a mean guitar, and in the style of Terry, although regulars informed me that he also can do a passable impersonation of Pete. He appeared in the preamble to Lost Property and stole the show for a few minutes; and he was note-perfect.

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Electricity Board the Bear is a symbol of the humour that goes along with the dark and serious subject matter of the songs. Even their one and only love song (according to Pete anyway) is called I Don’t Give A Shit About You.The tunes build an atmosphere of their own almost in contrast to Pete’s gravelly vocal style. It’s easy to see why they are successful.

So what does it take to see your favourite duo these days? Well, if you’re our mate Cait, and one of the regulars, then it’s a last minute train up from London, a night on our dodgy fold-up bed and a train back at the crack of sparrows’. Well worth it!

Set list

Loved & Lost
Betty Ford
Downsizing
Sound Of Love
Lost Property
A To Fade In
Parallel Girl
Queen Of Stuff
I Don’t Give A Shit About You
Out Of Time
Gravity

Encore:
So Hot
Let’s Get Lost

Photographs – Stephanie Colledge
Words – Ian Gelling

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