Live (The Low Miffs)

Friday the 18th of August was certainly a night for getting out of the house. A large proportion of the country were wrapped up in the convoluted antics of some social degenerates getting out of a televised house and other folk, well… other folk were more than happy to get out of the house away from the television.

With this backdrop in mind, a night featuring The Low Miffs and Popup was an opportunity too good to be missed. A gig in the basement that is Nice N Sleazys should always get the vote of any extra-curricular activities and from the moment The Low Miffs sedately appeared on stage, it was clear this choice was a winner.

With the extremely dapper lead singer – Leo Condie concerning himself more with a broadsheet newspaper – the start of the show was extremely quirky and this carried through in the songs time changes. The first couple of tracks were leaping about from slow to racing in the blink of an eye and once the listener got used to this rollercoaster effect, it was easy to warm to the songs a bit. The Low Miffs were sounding like a band that would be hard to judge on only one appearance but as their set continued, more and more likeable elements came through.

The most striking tune was ‘Where Are Your Songs Now?’ an almost torch song epic that you could picture Marlena Dietrich singing. The touch of theatre was added to by Condie wrapping himself around a pillar and prowling throughout the crowd, all to a cynical musical backing and wild saxophone flailing.

With the last couple of songs adding some indie squalor to the proceedings, The Low Miffs managed to serve up a highly excitable half hour and should definitely be kept on your radar.

Popup are one of the bands that you may as well get used to hearing about now because its probably only a matter of time before they cross over. Given the way that the nation has taken The Fratellis to their hearts and charts, these four youngsters look as equally well equipped to do the same and more in the current climate.

‘Poisoned Apple’ may be a good battering ram for them as it features the same swerve and vigour that has served The Frattelis so well but there’s a lot more to Popups sound than being one trick pony.

Even when a broken string forced the band to play recent single ‘Lucy, What Are You Trying To Say?’ earlier than they would have hoped, its qualities were easy to hear – but it may not be the most obvious single in their set, such was the overall showing. Aside from the charging rhythm throughout the track, the lyric tells a great tale of trying to fend off drunken suitors and references a bloke with Tourette’s, perfectly suitable for the night.

A strong point in favour of Popup is that the four members all play a key part in the sound and there isn’t an obvious weak link to the band. The guitar lines are pretty much to the fore, the lyrical and melodic interplay is snappy and the rhythm section keeps it all bundled up nicely in the background. Early on the impression was that the drums parts were quite simplistic but as the songs built up around them, it was clear that simple was the best way to play them and allowed for a greater element of surprise when they provided the main musical breaks and passages. If it’s good enough for Moe Tucker, then this style of drumming is good enough for anyone, so all in all it was hard to fault Popup musically.

There was a song called ‘Stagecoach’ which given their lyrical wordplay was feared to be their equivalent of the Divine Comedy’s ‘National Express’, but thankfully this never materialised. With time running against them, the band had to rush through the end and ‘Skid’ started off with such a guitar line that the initial thought was that it can only go downhill from there. And it did, but only momentarily before rescuing itself at the end with lead singer Michael Cross’s pacey melodic turn over that initial riff living up the early expectations. There are also not enough tracks that reference Mothercare, so fair play for that line as well.

With the standard attractions of a Friday night meaning The-Mag had to leave the building before headliners The Cinematics, Popup were left as headliners to ourselves and this about summed up the night.

As George Orwell rightly predicted, the masses and proles need to be given distractions to keep their minds off their own lives and this generation has found that in television. In Orwell’s original vision the proles found solace and comfort in song and melody and these proles would have thoroughly enjoyed Popup.

Guest article from Andy R.

Written by Guest Writers on

Between 2003 and 2009, [the-mag] had regular contributors from music correspondents covering their local scene. You'll find them all in the guest writers section. The specific writer is mentioned at the bottom of each article.

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