As I wander downstairs into what is possibly London’s coziest venue, I am hit by support act Jeff Klein‘s lazy, throaty melodies that rest somewhere between Tom Waits‘ gruff narrative and Thom Yorke‘s characteristic whine. Although Mr Klein himself prefers to think he sounds “like Ralph from The Muppet Show!”
Retaining the undivided attention of a rapt Borderline for the majority of his set, and closing with sure single Five Good Reasons from his critically acclaimed second album Everyone Loves A Winner appreciators of Jeff Klein’s unique Amerciana/antifolk niche are set to grow.
The preparatory swell stageward for the headliners is clearly noticeable, and the middle aged crowd buzzes with restrained excitement. Taking to the stage amidst rapturous applause and opening with current Top 40 single Justify the Rain, swiftly followed by the catchy Now That You Know the Cosmic Rough Riders state a strong case for being Scotland’s answer to R.E.M. with their cheery brand of acoustic Del Amitri-esque pop rock.
The tracks from the band’s first album Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine are quite somber songs, but nevertheless conveyed with a certain charm that lets us all know that it’s all going to turn out fine. As if to reinforce this belief before continuing, front man Stephen Fleming tells the crowd “This is a song I wrote when I was miserable to cheer myself up, it’s about smiling”.
Kill The Time and live favourite Baby You’re so Free both pass by pleasantly enough, but it is not until Staring at the Sunrise that the quartets Achilles heel becomes apparent. The catchy songs, although very alike to each other have the ability to draw you in, but the weaker ones let the side down, and reveal a need for a little more development in songwriting.
The dip in pace and quality is hastily repaired by the time past single Revolution (In the Summer) is unleashed, which sparks a spate of dancing which spreads infectiously throughout the Borderline. Former single Because You has a strong whiff of The Beatles meets Hootie And The Blowfish sing along-ability.
Retiring from the stage for the shortest encore break witnessed this side of the millennium, the Scots return for a cover, Country House, from Neil Young‘s masterpiece Ragged Glory.
They should be playing bigger venues, reaching and cheering up many more unhappy people than they currently are. If you get the chance, go and see this band. Even if you go in fairly contented, you’ll leave with a grin to put the Cheshire cat to shame.