London gig-goers who delight in the atmospherics of Bush Hall or The Water Rats have a new venue to consider – Parker Place, Holborn. * It’s of a similar size to The Water Rats, and has a similar split-level layout.
But it also has louche couches and the gilt-framed mirrors, faux chandeliers and that general hint of civilisation associated with Bush Hall. Delightfully, it’s also free of cover charge tonight, all of which make it the perfect venue for the shambling collective known as The Boy Least Likely To to play some toons in.
Largely through nudges and whispers (and the merest hint of radio play), The Boy Least Likely To’s superb, independently released debut album, The Best Party Ever, has broken in to Amazon’s top 200 albums. But sshhhhh – it’s a secret. You wouldn’t want them to know, would you?
That delightful collection of acoustic whimsy transfers well to the live stage. Lead singer Jof alternates between Harry Connick, Jr poses and infant school percussion instruments. To his right twangs a banjo boy, and to the right of him sits a Vicky Pollard of sorts, plonking out keyboard sounds and giving her all in the backing vocals department. There’s a drummer who understands the role requires subtle playing, a guitarist, a bassist and perhaps some others too. They don’t travel lightly, this lot. Bizarrely, they’re all behind a crash barrier. Were they expecting crowd surfing? It’d be like rioting at a Belle and Sebastian gig…
An inauspicious start involving gestures to the sound man quickly gave way to an assured presence from the band as they realised their audience could hear them fine and were enjoying every minute. A couple of pieces that didn’t make the album proved welcome, Fur Soft As Fur pootled amiably along and Monsters made a brief, scary appearance. Then we found ourselves transported to California circa Brian Wilson for I See Spiders When I Close My Eyes.
The best was saved till nearly the end with the (quiet, charming) belter that is Be Gentle With Me and a speedier-than-on-the-CD rendering of I’m Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon To Your Star. (Did they spend an evening in the company of intoxicants finding really peculiar things to sing about?)
The Beach Boysy Hugging My Grudge energetically stroked the set towards its climax and almost too soon the band were of the mind to sample the bar’s delights.
But the venue conspired to prevent them escaping. There’s no backstage area, it seems, so our heroes got to walk out to the audience. And of course the audience wouldn’t let them – at least until they played some more songs. Thus it was that Paper Cuts and the 40-second opus God Takes Care Of The Little Things were aired.
A gentle band with a slew of delightful songs of single potential then, quietly beginning to do well, and on their own terms. The Boy Least Likely To made many more converts at this most amiable of venues.
* – Unfortunately, it closed soon afterwards – on the day of The Boy Least Likely To’s return gig a month later…