With a wry coincidence, Brighton chamber pop aficionados The Miserable Rich played in theheart of disgraced banker-land tonight: the City of London.
They’retouring to promote their new Covers EP, which includes acousticreinterpretations of Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics and Gigantic by thePixies, amongst others. The choice of venue played to their strengths; the intimate ’70sporno-lounge surroundings of the basement bar was perfect for theirself-defined “bar-room chamber music”, and the overall effect was akinto having a string quintet in your living room.
The support band Left With Pictures had been a tough act tofollow. They wrapped up their time on stage with a cracking cover of1952 Vincent Black Lightning by Richard Thompson. For this, theyrepeated an earlier trick of venturing into the audience to play itwithout amplification, and received a suitably rousing round of applausefor their efforts.
Curiously, The Miserable Rich only played one song from their latesteffort; their version of Shades by Iggy Pop, bereft ofthe backing vocal “woo-woos” which feature in the original. It’s arguably one of the weaker tracks from the EP, butlive it took on a more distinctive hue.
Indeed their set as a whole, largely comprised of songs from TwelveWays To Count, their 2008 debut album, was very well executed. Butaudience engagement didn’t feature greatly, aside from directing them toclap along at a few points, and when the impressively-named lead singerJames de Malplaquet toasted the audience in appreciation after eachtrack.
He did give a few choice explanations about the meanings behind his songs, and there was a rather lovely rejigged opening to Boat Song,which he dedicated to his mother. He held a music box mechanism up tothe microphone, which played a lullaby (Johannes Brahms‘Wiegenlied, Op. 49 No. 4, if we’re being frightfully specific) which theother musicians proceeded to take their cue from.
One of the guitarists was sporting an AC/DC t-shirt, which seemed abit incongruous at the time, but de Malplaquet has pointed out that”After a few beers, we’re prone to burst into string-based versions ofanything from AC/DC to Phil Collins.” Here’s hoping thatSussudio has featured at some point. He’d have us believe that alcohol is an integral element of this band – after they performed Pisshead, he notedthat it was “a key tune for this band”, whilst they all reached fortheir respective alcoholic tipples.
It’s likely that they are thoroughly sick of it by now, but one trackit would have been nice to hear was their smashing cover of HotChip‘s Over And Over, which brought them to wider attention earlylast year. But that’s a minor quibble. It was an enjoyable evening, witha group of very capable musicians at the helm.