Restlesslist live at Power Lunches, London (17 March '12) // Words: Simon Opie // Photo: Heidi Johnson
Celebrating St Patrick’s Day with a musical story about an itinerant Scotsman’s fantastic seafaring adventures performed in a small room by an eight-piece band from Brighton turned out to be a truly brilliant idea. Dalston's funky, compact bar Power Lunches had been taken over on the night for the purposes of 'The Triangulation Of The 5th Dimension', an event featuring an excellent opening set from Boss Kite and then the performance in its entirety of 'Coral Island Girl', the newly created album by Restlesslist.
The band comprise Matty Davies on bass and percussion, Max Erie on keys, Ben Elliott on synth and sampler, Rachel Day on guitar, trumpet and vocals, Eleanor Whittle on flute, melodica and vocals, Damo Waters on drums, Matthew Twaites on guitar and sampler and Mark Campbell as narrator. Contrary to my expectations, the sound balance in the confined space was flawless and the richness of the line-up created a soundscape that was totally engaging.
As for the music itself, imagine And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead merged with the British tradition of Prog music that stretches from Henry Cow and Gong To Belbury Poly. The tale of a stowaway mariner’s adventures in the South Seas, perhaps previously told to the band in a Brighton pub, takes in a beautiful lagoon girl, a hat-wearing dog called Mr. Winchester, and an island paradise wiped out by volcanic eruption.
It is theatrically related in episodes, each one sparking a musical exploration of themes from rock to calypso, with the whole band taking full advantage of the opportunities to cut loose. By now I’m aware that maybe I’m not selling the concept particularly well, and the weird thing is that it shouldn’t really work, but it does – spectacularly. It’s truly as entertaining and inspiring a performance as you’re likely to see, and if you get the chance to catch it, then absolutely make sure you do.
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