The venues for their London gigs of late have included the rather more imposing surroundings of the Union Chapel and St Giles-in-the-Fields, but The Miserable Rich seem equally at home in the dingy, beer soaked faux-grandeur of the Luminaire.
Following a rousing set of country-tinged ’50s inspired numbers from the intriguing Polly And The Billets Doux, The Miserable Rich lug their many instruments through the heavy red velvet curtains next to the ladies’ loos and onto the stage.
As the double bass, cello and some almighty beards fight for space, singer James de Malplaquet immediately commands attention. A cool, calm presence, he’s suited and booted, sipping from a glass of red wine and looking intently into the audience.
A band of excellent pedigree, members of Clearlake, Hope Of The States and The Willkommen Collective make up their numbers, but their second album seemed to draw a line under their past musical ventures. Where their debut Twelve Reasons To Count felt like an experiment in chamberpop, its follow up, Of Flight And Fury, which was released in the Spring, was the real deal, and tonight’s show reflects that.
While the Luminaire might not have the acoustics of the church venues, it’s the perfect setting for their boozy, hazy tales of mischief, lust and hungover reflection, which wrap the audience in a fuddled blanket of Merlot. We’re taken along for the ride as de Malplaquet tells us about lusting after the local yummy mummy and finally managing to steal a kiss (the flittering, breezy Somerhill) and about being dumped by three girls, though not at the same time, he hastens to add (the tear jerking Let Me Fade).
De Malplaquet’s playful vocal has something of Rufus Wainwright or Neil Hannon about it. He’s witty and at times almost smutty, but so laid back and comfortable that as he loops his words around the strings, you get completely lost in it. An unrecognisable cover of Iggy Pop‘s Shades sits alongside “a song about alcoholism”, Pisshead, taken from Twelve Reasons To Count which, along with Monkey, also taken from their debut, sounds weak when compared with the likes of Chestnut Sunday and Hungover. In fact the record’s only track to stand its own tonight is The Time That’s Mine; “A song about having to work to survive,” de Malplaquet tells us, counting down the days until payday and days off.
As time ticks on and the 11pm curfew takes hold, de Malplaquet comes up with a cunning plan: “Don’t burn the chairs!” he quips, before leading his unplugged band over to a spot between the cloakroom and bar. Here they play a two song encore, with de Malplaquet’s voice soaring above the now muted band. And what better way to end a Miserable Rich show than with a sing-song at kicking out time?