Friday, 29 January 2010

Midlake @ The Sugarmill January 25th 2010

Review and Photograph by Simon Bamford

Midlake are in Hanley tonight to promote their new album “The Courage of Others”. The ‘Mill is pretty much full, it's a good turn out. There’s a mix of ages but the balance leans to a more mature audience. I am unfamiliar with most of their material, but sometimes, in my experience this is the best way to first hear a band live. The Texan band take to the stage with something missing, a band member, he appears seconds later and joins his buddies. Unfortunately as they progress through their set it feels to me as if there’s still something missing. We are treated to skillfull musicianship, rich harmonies, triple flute arrangements and even the odd bit of jovial banter.

There are influences in their sound ranging from Southern American rock and country, through Celtic to British folk. They are a good band no doubt, but for me they never quite hit the spot. I want to like the band more than I do tonight, it just seems to lack a certain sparkle. They peaked with the instantly recognisable number Roscoe and finished by not leaving the stage to do their encore. They simply explained their intention. The problem was for me that their seemed to be nothing memorable in between these points of reference; perhaps I'm the only person to feel, this or at least in a minority. I certainly enjoyed the gig but the band seemed tired, possibly from touring. Maybe I'm missing the point and that’s what Midlake's music’s all about.

All that said, it was a robust performance and enjoyable enough. Early in the set I ventured to the front to get a photo. There was a large semi-circle of free floor space in front of Singer Tim Smith. Are the band so unapprochable? I ask myself. Tonight I always felt there was a certain unbridgable gap.



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