In the summer of 2005 James Blunt‘s You’re Beautiful was in the middle of its residency at the top of UK charts, Franz Ferdinand were the band de jour, London was handed the Olympics and shortly afterwards terrorists attacked the capital. And, in Sunderland, an unknown indie band unleashed their first album to a small but dedicated fanbase. Seven years, four albums and two solo projects later, Field Music have survived that strangely soulless decade and blossomed into one of the country’s most commercially underrated and critically acclaimed bands.
At Camden’s Electric Ballroom, Field Music’s oddly timeless appeal is reflected in the diversity and passion of the crowd. But first, those lucky enough to arrive early had the pleasure of support from Golden Fable. A three piece from North Wales, Golden Fable entertain and beguile with a deceptively powerful yet intimate set. Single Always Golden is a bold manifesto – finger plucked acoustic offset with urgent keyboards and drums, the vocals of the male and female lead singers harmonise to create something compelling and beautiful. If you imagine Brian Molko and Elizabeth Fraser in the same band, you begin to get a sense of what Golden Fable are capable of. They are that rare thing; an upcoming band already possessing the songs, coherence and ability to blossom into headliners themselves.
Similarly, Field Music have long seemed on the cusp of greatness. But, as brothers David and Peter Brewis amble onstage with genuine, if slightly workmanlike excitement, the response they receive immediately dispels such suspicions. They might not trouble the charts, but they are adored all the more for it. Swapping instruments and vocal duties from the start, Field Music are serious, earnest and infinitely endearing. Skipping seamlessly from funky basslines to heavy riffs, the audience is instantly in the palm of their hands.
The set leans on recent album Plumb, although older crowd pleasers are liberally provided. If Only The Moon Were Up and In Context receive the loudest cheers and sound as unusual and fresh as ever. But – such is their style – Field Music’s newer material already sounds classic, with A New Town being a high point of the evening. Eerie atmospherics make way for a driving bass beneath strangely melancholic but hummable lyrics. It is rapturously received and gets the whole room moving.
The key to the band’s continuing charm is a determined rejection of compromise. They so visibly enjoy the music they play, and play the music they enjoy, that they can’t help but inspire admiration and respect. With songs about waiting in traffic and looking for your shoes, they make the mundane bearable – nothing encourages a gleeful Dad dance more than (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing. For the Brewis brothers, life is full of anxiety and stress, and love is awkward, but with such memorable tunes and vibrant delivery, it is something to be celebrated.
As they leave the stage the crowd calls for more. They will never reach the dizzying heights of James Blunt, but they leave with their integrity intact. Smiling serenely, they can be comfortable in the knowledge that, if the tunes remain as good as they sounded tonight, Field Music will continue to receive highbrow and heartfelt adoration for years to come.