In the heart of North Laine, the Komedia is in the midst of bohemian Brighton; flanked by pubs and cafes, you won’t find a better place to showcase your talents. There is an appeal to the shabbier venues in town but it was refreshing to walk into a place that didn’t have shady corners with cobwebs and had colourful lights making the instruments on the plinth gleam with colour.
Local folk musician Paul Murray paired up with cellist Amy Squirrel to ease us into the mellowness of the evening. Mr Murray has a peaceful aura, so when he casually drops the occasional expletive into his lyrics, it is a surprise and his wry smile says he knows this. Stopping halfway through to chat about sweaty armpits enhancing one’s rock star status (or folk star, as Amy pointed out), the two musicians presented us with some lovely, lilty music. Next up was the charismatic Nick Williams, from alternative/indie/folk (can’t settle on one genre) band Night House. Nick played amongst the crowd for his first and last songs which had a surprisingly warming effect. Moving between a range of instruments onstage, he displayed his versatile talents, sometimes with gadgets that added an ‘80s synthesised quality to his music. Other times he relied on his incredible vocal range and we were treated to his honeyed voice with creative lyrics.
Then Warsaw Radio. Irish lead vocalist Brían McNamara forgot his capo for the first song and so he stopped for some impromptu banter and as an audience we were all the more receptive because of it. Unassumingly talented on the violin and providing backing vocals, Nicola Bates took the whole of the first song to recover from her giggles, yet managing to perform simultaneously which surely takes some skill. But McNamara was unfazed; not only is he in possession of a wonderfully rich baritone voice, but he also has one of the most robust voices I have ever heard. Every song – including Fun Song for Anna and Give it All to Fear – was afforded captivating levels of passion. Stopping occasionally to explain the band name (the radio station at Warsaw continued to play during a 1939 siege) and one or two songs, he proved himself to be an engaging frontman for this talented band which also comprises Paul Lennox on drums, Laurence Bridge on bass and Chris Webber on lead guitar. Inclusion of Down by the Sea made this a rounded gig for me, but the intention was to promote After Eve, their latest single which was released February 10th by Jag Jago (The Maccabees). Based on Eve of biblical fame, like all of their songs it tells a story and with its usual mix of strings, drums, bass and guitar, has that strong folk/rock vibe that is quintessential Warsaw Radio.
For more on Warsaw Radio and info on their current tour:
Reviewed by Lisa O’Connor at the Komedia