The hoary old chestnut of people talking at gigs reared its head for Jim Noir in the middle of a set upstairs at the Garage – but not in the way you might expect.
“Why is everyone so quiet in here? It’s making me feel tense; it’s almost a hostile silence!” He squirms visibly, but with a slight smile. Cue a short burst of pantomime booing, and a hasty mock retreat from the front man. All this is in good humour of course, the banter and music going hand in hand.
Noir – aka Alan Roberts – has been an understated pop presence of late, but this intimate gig reminds us he is still very much around. He performs with an ensemble of five. On his left is an immaculately dressed bassist, his deerstalker and suit offering him a cladding that could comfortably insulate a loft, but on this occasion gives him a surprisingly understated cool. Noir’s two backing singers choreograph their hand waving to impressive effect, when their digits are not occupied providing loopy keyboard riffs.
Behind them is a ‘little picture show’ style set, the effect akin to performing within the confines of a large four poster, only without the bed itself. The recent EP Zooper Dooper is the source for the artwork, a psychedelic sheep glinting radioactively at the crowd.
Focussing on this from the outset, Jim Noir’s set provides highly enjoyable musical twists and turns, layered with garage pop but always offering a memorable melodic or lyrical couplet. Of these, Eany Meany’s “if you don’t give my football back, I’m gonna put my dad on you” is surely the best, though it has competition from encores Computer Song and My Patch. Though the material from first album Tower Of Love that receives the most affection, Kitty Cat gives us instrumental charm early on, segueing nicely in to She Flies Away With My Love.
With so much on show, it proves something of a mystery that there aren’t more people in attendance to share this particularly enjoyable brand of pop. Not that there are any complaints, for an intimate show suits Jim Noir just fine. It may be that he’s dropped off the radar somewhat for now, but if he continues to write music of the quality of which he is capable, you can pretty much guarantee a return to public consciousness with his next album, whenever that may be.