Live Music + Gig Reviews

Melys + Tin Star @ Barfly 144, London

17 May 2001



If you weren’t at this gig please suspend your disbelief for a moment (if you were there you won’t need to) and consider this: Melys are one of the best and most original live bands in the UK. So why were they supporting a Robbie Williams cover band?

This gig was originally supposed to be Melys headlining with the intriguing Dutch band Seedling supporting. However V2 wanted to showcase their current hot signing and so Tin Star were forced into the No 1 slot and Seedling will have to wait until Saturday. There is nothing new in this, recorded music is where the money is and the big labels call the shots, unless bands have already made it they come a long way down the food chain. One has got to wonder for how long the tail will continue to wag the dog, Napster may have rolled over and shown it’s belly to the recording industry but as Tubbs would say ‘more will come’.

Single sales in the UK and America have hit 20-year record lows. Why go out and buy tunes when you can download them directly from the Internet? At the moment most of us are married to the idea of having an album we can hold, but what if we get over this? What if the idea of storing music on our computers becomes as common as having a mobile phone (which will store it and play it as well!)? No more V2? Labels are already reinventing themselves and finding new income streams. Some ‘wise men’ say that live music will reclaim the commercial core of the industry and bands would be best served by signing to a promoter instead of a label.

I had a chat to Paul Adams, guitarist, and lyricist for Melys, he is a lot more philosophical about events like this, “It’s a small price to pay for being in charge of our own destiny”. A destiny that has seen them play on the same bill as JJ72 at the EuroSonic Festival earlier this year and so impress the locals that they were invited back to tour the country. They recorded their 7th (or was it 8th?) Peel Session recently and they are working on their third album in their own studio in North Wales.

The set is fantastic, one highlight is a new song Chinese Whispers, which sees Andrea Parker’s voice reach new emotional highs. Another is the recently released single I Don’t Believe In You. Melys have an immensely strong identity they can call their own. Unfortunately their time runs out all too soon and we are denied an encore.

We are then treated to Tin Star, the chorus in their opening song sums them up: “I spend my time in front of the mirror until I love myself”. This is followed by other dirges. In the unlikely event that this outfit have any longevity they may regret overlooking the fact that an old Tin Star quickly becomes a rusty sheriff’s badge.

For Melys, being on their own label may sometimes involve pissing in the wind but at least they can stick two fingers up to anyone who tells them to spit instead!

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More on Melys
Melys – Suikerspin
Melys @ Dublin Castle, London
Melys + Tin Star @ Barfly 144, London
Melys @ EuroSonic Noorderslag, Groningen