If there was ever a night made for folk music it would be a Sunday evening. Its a night for winding down and zoning out, and even James Scallan, front man of indie folkers The Pony Collaboration, was having trouble summing up the energy needed to entertain his small but devoted following at Lark in the Park, as he mumbled to me that this Islington venue was some what off the beaten track and it being “a school night and all.”
But as soon as he got on stage his lacklustre demeanour fell away and under the spotlights he became his alpha self. He was head strong and loquacious in a bashful way, and hugely passionate about the music, its meaning and the onstage mayhem that is unleashed when this eight piece band get together. And I was amazed that a line up that includes viola, percussion and glockenspiel could all fit on to Lark in the Park’s tiny stage.
The set opened with a lazy, melodic, bittersweet number which sees Scallan dueting with the diminutive Claire Williams on Don’t Stay. He is steadfast, aggressive, almost swallowing and gurning in front of the mike as he sings, while she remains more aloof but no less compelling. However it was the anthemic Fast Lane, that really got people whooping and dancing, enjoying the upbeat tempo and effortless refrain.
Slumming Expedition, with its blend of indie, pop and folk, which is due to be released as a single in May, was also a massive crowd pleaser. Their eponymous album, recorded on a shoe string in a spare bed room is also out in April (if you listen hard enough you may well be able to hear the group’s neighbours doing their DIY).
By the time Sunday night comes around, you don’t want to have your ears pummelled by the righteous hectoring of the Next Big Thing, and so while the Pony Collaboration are new, there was something simple and homespun about their sound, and something familiar and reassuring in their lyrics, that made them the perfect calming coda to any hectic week.