Wolf Gang + Malpas @ The Hare + Hounds, Birmingham – 24th November 2010


Malpas are an enigmatic collective, with cool, jazzy counterpoints, piquant, pizzicato flourishes and soothing sythn-scapes whilst the violin lends an occasional Celtic psychedelia. Song four in the actual performance (the set-list went a bit wobbly in the middle and they had to drop a song, ‘Charlemagne’ possibly, but with disarming sang froid singer, Ali Forbes said, ‘Ah well, it’ll be on the album.’) had a bossa nova/Hawaii flavour, sounds intriguing doesn’t it? It made me think of a David Lynch surreal dreamscape sequence. Their snappy sharp beat driven harmonies recalled The Thompson Twins. Last song ‘Promise’ had a Pink Floyd gravitas with a pulsing bass line, stardust sprinkled xylophone /glockenspiel nuances and fascinating instrumental internal dialogues. The band references aren’t intended to diminish Malpas’ originality, au contraire, it’s a salute.

Setlist: River, Sails (see website for video), TGL err? Us Afloat, Lyon, Promise.


Wolf Gang, aka Max McElligott, and collective fine musicians has created his own engaging, idiosyncratic style, which, in this reviewer’s opinion, draws on some of the 1980s more noble attributes such as Howard Jones and Simple Minds. Some hear homage to Davids Byrne/Bowie. Not a derivative comparison but just little tingles of nostalgia and again, this is my impression, a tickle of Arcade Fire’s majestic harmonies and crescendos. I’m keeping my eye on this young man because I warmed to the quirky, but never kitsch, use of warm synth textures, exotic, oriental chimes. Hope I’ve got the correct title for song four on the set list, ‘Back to Back’, this had some delightful falsetto choruses and guitar driven grunt. A talent to be nurtured and didn’t we just love that Flock of Seagulls/Jeff Buckley quiff. And just look at these wonderful song titles!


Set list: Dancing With The Devil, Night Flying, Something Unusual, Back to Back, Where Are You Now? The King And All His Men, Stay And Defend, Lions In Cages (new single).

Reviewer – John Kennedy
Photographer – Ian Dunn

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