Monday, 29 March 2010

Babybird - The Joiners - 23/3/2010

Something i've been musing upon over the last week or so. If, in 1995, you asked Stephen Jones (Babybird lynchpin) whether or not he wanted a gargantuan hit single which he would forever be associated with, would he have said "yes"?

Well, if that is what he would have answered, I think it's fair to say that since then he's changed his mind. The crowd at the Joiners were aware of this, and teased with constant requests for "Your Gorgeous".

And teasing they were, because funnily enough the crowd clearly consisted of long term Babybird fans, with nobody obviously there just to see YG.

I'm presuming this is because casual Your Gorgeous fans bought into one of the two myths that surrounds Babybird and that song. For the record those myths are:

1) Babybird had one massive single and then disappeared. Therefore the rest of their songs must be shite

2) Babybird have tonnes of better songs than Your Gorgeous

The truth is that Babybird have a very solid body of work behind them. And any objective view of your Gorgeous is almost impossible, so ubiquitous was it. To my mind, it's up their with their best.

But anyway, would the pander to the crowd and play it, or grumpily refuse to play it?

As it happens, he picked a third route. Babybird played the song in a half arsed fashion. During the outro Stephen ad-libbed lines, replacing "I know you'll get me through" with "This song destroyed my career" and "I wish I never had to play it again". Which if anything I thought was far more entertaining than doing it properly.

But in the interest of balance, I should point out that Babybird have other songs. Quite a lot of them. There are a smattering of songs from their new album, the solid "Ex-Maniac". And quite a few old favourites (Bad Old Man, If You'll Be Mine, The Way You Are, Cornershop...). It's clearly Stephon Jones's band - I don't think i've ever heard vocals so high in the mix at The Joiners. And Mr Jones has a very effective, if limited, voice. He certainly does the slightly talky vocals and the soaring chorus thing well. The rest of the band is certainly very tight too.

And the gig highlights just how consistent a song writer he is. I can't say he's ever written anything i've thought is brilliant, but he's also produced very little in the way of crap, something highilghted by listening to Babybird play songs for over an hour. Unfortunately it also highlights how many Babybird songs include the phrase "Shalalala"

Other than "shalala"s, to me Babybird pretty much seem like a concept band about how men are horrible (of which a prime example is, funnily enough, Your Gorgeous). Stephen Jones does, however, seem to have slightly toned down the misanthrope persona he apparently projected back in the day. He exhorts us to start smiling (apparently we all look miserable until the encore), and dedicates YG to a punter he caught earlier not paying attention - "this songs for you - it's called Your Gormless" (pretty lame gag, that). But in general he joshes, and even does hand actions while singing the songs.

Overall i'd rate the gig like I rate the band. Solid.

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