The Love Child Electric @ Nicole’s Bar, Birmingham – 25th July 2008

The secret gem that is Nicole’s Bar half hidden within the Jewellery Quarter was the perfect setting for a night of real music appreciation, a great refuge for non-commercial, cult listeners and a place to discover a new great talent of Birmingham. I felt foreign entering a place with already established relationships and familiar faces, but was met with a friendly atmosphere of subtle closeness. With half the room layed out with leather seats and comfortable sofas, and the other side the rowdy bar of big drinkers, it’s safe to say I liked it. And at the top of the room Bruce Lee’s ‘Enter the Dragon’ played without sound on the wall, just above laid out instruments and equipment lying in wait for The Love Child Electric.

Firstly though, Nicole’s Bar’s Wednesday night open mic host Michelle Brogan took to the stage. A woman with a indeering gentle and soft manner, alone with her acoustic guitar, which she played beautifully. Brogan was a classic folk singer with a voice full of soul and sweetness, which came across as refreshing. The sound however wasn’t powerful enough compared to the drunken noise coming from the bar, drowning out her lovely sound. Michelle, slightly dissapointed, spoke after the gig telling me how she “Couldn’t hear herself play.” Which, I personally think, made her pitch-perfect vocals even more impressive.

It occurred to me throughout her set how the room was divided completely, the quietly enchanted music lovers in the seating, and contrasting us the oblivious crowd at the bar, most likely awaiting LCE or another drink. A shame, but their loss was our gain as we enjoyed Michelle’s set, who despite the potentially distracting problems, seemed absorbed in her own words and music, a quiet lady but a wonderful confident performer.

The comfortably, packed bar errupted with cheers from close fans as The Love Child Electric entered, and I was curious to hear their live sound with the appealingly, unorthodox mix of instruments with Paul Griffin on guitar, Adam Roberts on drums, Reed on bass, Simon (replacing Richard Pugh) on keyboard and Kiki Chen on violin. While Bruce Lee smashed opponents in half one at a time the band started what was to be an absoluetly brilliant set from start to finish. I was stunned at the timing between the band, who complemented each other fantastically. I was happily shocked that the keyboard player Simon was only filling in, and playing his first ever Love Child Electric gig, which would have gone unnoticed had they not said, undoubtably showing their adaptability. It became increasingly hard throughout the set who to concentrate on, as my eyes darted from one member of the band to the other, every one of them impressively talented. Their songs were powerful, and with the haunting sound of the violin and soul of the keyboard, came a depth that transformed a great indie band into pure musical brilliance.

The band weren’t without charisma either. Lead singer and guitarist Paul took part in banter between the crowd of followers “Are we competing with Bruce Lee?” he joked with an audience who roared with appreciation after every number, though some felt “Chuck Norris” would have been a better background for the set. The LCE even provided an “appropriate” soundtrack for Bruce Lee’s famous final battle… with a ‘Reggae tune’.

Where has this band been kept? And why haven’t I heard their music blasting out of radios and televisions? Because it goes without saying an untapped talent like this are already miles ahead of anything I’m currently ignoring in charts. The same old tired argument in this 21st century of ‘easy’ and ‘predictable’ music, that we’re all bored of complaining about, yet still accepting. Maybe in these backstreet tiny venues are the only place to see small sparks of audio pleasure, while Top of the Pops dies music still resides. I was without a doubt overwhelled by the performances in Nicole’s Bar. There’s nothing like the thrill of discovering, and being completly taken by, extremely talented and impressive young musicians in small hometown venues. This is afterall, what its all about.

The Love Child Electric play at the Malthouse Brindley Place on Sept 14th at 4.30pm (part of Artsfest).

Review – Jack Molloy

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