I arrived at the Moth Club tonight and was shepherded into the front bar; a tiny room containing a few elderly locals and an awful lot of people looking for a Temper Trap gig.
Andy Murray was playing some French bloke on the TV in the corner. He was in danger of going two sets down and it didn’t look good. At eight, we were ushered into the back room to find alarmed looking road crew still wheeling amplifiers in flight cases across the floor.
There was only one outcome from that and reunited with the tiny front bar a minute or two later, I was back watching the tennis. Still, at least I was in the warm. Outside, there was a snake of Temper Trap fans going down the pavement and it didn’t look too snug. It clearly paid to get there early. At eight twenty-five, conversations in the tiny bar were halted by the sound of a kick drum being sound checked from the room next door. The support were supposed to be on in five minutes. Hmmm….
Eventually, we were reunited with the back room – or the ‘Reg Miller Memorial Hall’ as I now appreciate it’s called. For a venue calling itself The Moth Club, you’d have thought they might invest in a few more light bulbs. I can just about make out a portrait of Reg, looking out proudly from below a slot in the wall where on club nights the DJ’s work the decks and on Wednesdays they call the bingo. The arched ceiling is covered in gold glitter and I’m half expecting Benny and Bjorn to come out and introduce the first act. It’s a quirky place but eminently likeable.
At twenty to nine (which was commendably only ten minutes behind schedule), the support; Dreller came out to warm and enthusiastic applause. I looked behind me. The floor was packed. Dreller, a name previously unknown to me, is a multi-instrumentalist and animator. “Find me on the internet”, he said. “I make weird animated porn music videos”.
I did find him on the internet (www.worldofdreller.com) and I did approve. I wouldn’t worry too much about the porn. Mary Whitehouse would probably have coped and your kids will be safe. The sound was a mash of crashing guitar and thrashing drums squeezed between introspective vocals and the occasional interlude of synth.
I liked it a lot. Dreller didn’t hold back during the crashing guitar parts, wildly leaping about as if he were being controlled from above by a psychotic puppeteer. His instrument was covered in Duct Tape and it looked like it had seen some trauma. He spent most of the night fighting with a recalcitrant microphone – getting his legs wrapped up in the cord and following the head on multiple 360° trips around a loose boom arm. Eventually he had to concede defeat: “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship if I can get this thing fixed”. Dreller has a few festival appearances over the summer. If you find him listed, check him out – he puts on a highly engaging show.
The evening was pretty much back on schedule by the time The Temper Trap came out. There were beaming smiles on both sides of the stage apron. The band are promoting their forthcoming album ‘Thick As Thieves’, the first single of which, ‘Fall Together’ has been extensively played on Radio X amongst others.
Thick As Thieves is released on June 10th and the pre-release teasers indicate a return to the more guitar focussed sound of their debut ‘Conditions’, something I’m personally very happy about. Certainly, the set list tonight draws very heavily from both the first and most recent records, with only one song, ‘Rabbit Hole’ representing the sophomore release. They started with the title song from the new record, its insistent bass line and glassy guitars immediately sitting well with the crowd.
The band seemed extremely pleased to be here and it certainly felt a privilege to be seeing them in such intimate surroundings. Jonathan Aherne, stage right is a tall man and spent most of the night dodging significant head injury from a PA speaker hanging from the ceiling. When he swapped bass guitars, the tech handed him the replacement through the DJ slot above Reg’s picture. It was all mildly comical.
Nothing comical about the music or the performance though, both of which were first rate. There were some real highlights: ‘Science Of Fear’ and ‘Resurrection’ played back to back were hugely enjoyable but were eclipsed when Dougy Mandagi took on percussion duties during ‘Drum Song’ by battering the hell out of a floor tom and crash cymbal that had been placed at the front for him. ‘Sweet Disposition’ was played last and as might be expected drew the loudest cheer of the night, with community singing from the capacity crowd rebounding off the walls and ceiling.
I was actually supposed to be somewhere else tonight but the original gig fell through – and I’m so glad it did. This was a great night of exceptional music in a really special venue that I’d not experienced before. Sometimes, everything just falls into place. Against the odds, Murray even won the tennis.