LYR at Jazz Café
Believe it or not, the British poet laureate is no stranger to putting spoken word to music. John Betjeman made an album in 1974; indeed, current titleholder Simon Armitage himself has fronted an alternative band before in the shape of The Scaremongers. As he affirms tonight, though, his singing days are over. In LYR he has found a more thrilling musical outlet for his lyrical prowess.
Support for tonight’s show comes from South London singer-songwriter Carmody, who has the crowd reverentially attentive throughout her six-song setlist. While her resonant vocals are strikingly impressive throughout, Paradise and For Desire particularly showcase them at their most sonorous. Indeed, she could ditch her electric guitar, perform a capella and the audience would be just as engrossed.
That level of absorption, unsurprisingly, is fully maintained throughout headliner LYR’s 11-song headline set. That enthralment might be magnified by the underlying feeling of surrealism at witnessing live music, having been deprived for over a year, but, at its foundation, the audience immersion is the product of a slick, note-perfect performance from start to finish. It is stunning to think that this is only their third ever gig.
Though Armitage, as poet laureate, may be the best known of the trio, the evening is indebted to the musical talents of Richard Walters and Patrick Pearson. The musicians could not ask for a better venue than the Jazz Café to showcase the variety of influences they draw upon. The perfect acoustics mean that the ambient sounds of the soaring Winter Solstice can be savoured as much as the sombre electro-post-punk of 33 1/3, the latter with a bass line that aptly channels Joy Division’s Transmission, considering its lyrics are inspired by the death of Ian Curtis.
Even though the upbeat Sigur Rós influences on tracks like Never Good with Horses are more fitting for a post-lockdown gig, the darker sounding tracks seem to steal the show. Urban Myth #91 is a beautifully thrumming blend of krautrock and synth-pop, and set closer Lockdown (without Florence Pugh) combines Graham Coxon-esque guitar meltdowns and brawny bass saxophone to round the night off with a wondrous jazz-punk fusion.
Overall, an hour of LYR was just not enough to satiate the audience who are very much left wanting more. Let’s hope fans do not have to wait another year for their next show.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit LYR’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Winter Solstice here: