As we sit at the bar and await the doors being thrown open to the public, chatting to the support acts and joking with the bar staff, there’s one question on our lips tonight – “where is Lupen Crook?”. As the audience filter in our headliner is nowhere to be seen. No matter though, as the fine folks at Stiff Promotions have compiled an interesting bill to keep us occupied.
Openers MayDay are relatively new to the gigging scene and have the fresh young faces to prove it. The singer has clearly watched a little too much Liam Gallagher footage, but close your eyes and the smoky vocals are remeniscent of James Morrison. The talent is here for these guys, and they’ve got a couple of good songs too… the stagecraft will come in good time.
Next up is Jack Alexander. We’ve seen him once before (across the road in fact), but he’s evolved from the Bowler Hat wearing troubadour into a whirling dervish of a performer, leaping about the little stage, whooping, screaming, stomping and whipping the audience into a frenzy. The rest of the night will be good, but this guy has just stolen the show!
Scott Jowett is perhaps not a name well known to the gig-goers of Portsmouth, but shedding his much better known Kurt Cooder label has allowed Scott’s music to speak for itself. His is an assured, understated set that may not have set the audience on fire, but was definitely food for thought, perhaps the highlight was a musical tribute to the world’s sexiest Ice Cream lady, but rest assured Scott may be his own man now, but the opinionated, pseudo-political tunes most assuredly remain.
Somewhere in proceedings Lupen Crook has appeared with long time friend/sometime Murderbird Tom Langridge in tow. While they set up I chat to their manager, both of us moaning about the sub-par female fronted records being crammed down throats so far this year (sorry Ellie Goulding fans). Lupen is airing new tunes ina stripped down format, with Tom adding a little extra sound with guitars and occasional pots and pans. It’s a subdued set compared to what we’ve seen in the past, but the macabre world Lupen lives in is still very much there, even if the veil is sometimes lifted by upbeat tunes like The Counting Song.
The night over we catch up with Tom (at the bar, of course). He’s enthused about the forthcoming new album, and it’s intriguing to see him and Lupen together, the former calm and happy to be playing, the latter jittery, full of unreleased energy and eager to get back into the studio for last minute tidy-ups of the new material. They pronounce the gig a success, which I’d agree with, and bundle themselves into their van to head home. Gareth, the ever present Cellars barman has got a hoover out, so I guess thats our cue to make a move too…