the witchwood, nothing much more than a tin hut built out
the back of a pub, huddles in the dark. a few misguided souls
stud the place like stains on a carpet. after half a lifetime
(about fifteen minutes) martin carr and derrero scamper onto
the stage trying not to look self conscious. martin is going
for the eager young schoolteacher look tonight; sporting cricket
jumper, wire-rimmed specs and new, tidy hairdo. derrero aspire
considerably to sullen grunge. but oh - there are times when
the stars stand still, how songs can still the universe is
a staggering alchemy deftly meted out by this young meister.
you don't get to be lead guitar in a band like the boo radleys
for ten years for nothing. the amassed firepower is awesome
and carr deals it out with the merest flick of a wrist. i
wonder whether he senses the collective jaw dropping in the
room when he elects to treat an electric guitar as such.
it's a standard thing to rate martin carr's way with a tune
but i can't find an alternate view. really this was the teeniest
of sets...okay, they play eight songs, but they're concise,
close-structured; not a moment of waste, an inch of slack.
yet in this fleeting time there's that calm child-like delight
carr recognises in the world, such an old-fashioned quality,
so far from the zeitgeist. it dawns on me that martin might
be the antithesis of thom yorke. a sort of antiparticle. if
they met, would they both evaporate in a puff of mutual pink
there's such a range in what martin's writing: slants of regret,
a trough of gloom - and musically? sparse, open voice-and-acoustic
passages turning effortlessly into instrumental roars. there
are, at times, six of them on that tiny stage. martin singing
and variously playing tambourine, acoustic guitar or one of
a couple of electrics. derrero supplying a singing drummer,
a bassist, one "guitar, vocals, tambourine-and-maraccas"
bloke, one girl on keyboards
and then there's ian doing
more than duty on saxes (the sax-shaped one and the oboe-shaped
one which my spies tell me could be soprano sax). one of the
reasons (maybe the reason) i love little new starting bands
so much is because they come across such interesting corners.
they write songs with rhythms that are all wrong, structures
that are unexpected, chuck in everything they know all at
once, unafraid to use it up, teeter unashamedly on the edge
of chaos. mostly, they fall off the edge or learn how to play
martin carr may just be one of those children who's managed
not to grow up. who's got years of expertise and experience
under his belt which means skill, sureness of touch, tools
he can use but who loves skittering about on the edge, writing
outrageous colliding rhythms, fucking about with stupid sounds,
raising satan or quelling him just whenever he damn well pleases.
i have to make special mention in this context of a fantastic
chaotic sax solo that tumbled like a shot pheasant above a
densely layered, staunch rythmic base. a warm and awe-inspiring
occasion. a sheer privilege and joy. may he go on, this bravecaptain,
to many more.
incidentally, when i collared him later and said it looked
easy, he said: "it is easy! sice (former boo radleys
singer) came to see us the other night and said the same.
it was so hard, for both of us, in the boo rads. i don't know
why. it was so hard. now it is easy". i hope you too
get to see him having it easy. life doesn't have to be hard.
not all of it.
martin carr seems to be a man from the age of reason, a man
of emotional response that is balanced, one response counterbalanced
one by another and therefore finally a man at peace at peace
with himself, with his nature, with his world. not the flatness
of boredom or insensitivity but of sadness checked by joy,
loneliness counteracted by friendship, goodbyes meeting hellos,
of rain and sunshine, dark and light, gloom and glow. ever
acute, his lyrics write of his - of everyone's - most direct
and intimate ways of being in the world: of loving, leaving,
of letting go. married to a facility with melody, undiminished
fascination with sonic mucking about and general concern for
the well being of his fellows and you have (at the very least)
a good night out.
review by wendy cook (for misfit city)
if you have any reviews, photos or setlists from previous
bravecaptain live shows, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.