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THE MISERABLE RICH / ALABASTER DEPLUME / GOLDEN FABLE @ ST PHILLIPS CHURCH, SALFORD 03/11/11 - REVIEW BY ANDY BARNES

After recording new album “Miss You in the Days” in one of Britain’s most haunted buildings Blickling Hall in Norfolk, once the residence of Anne Boleyn, tonight’s venue is particularly apt for the haunted tour by The Miserable Rich.  Although not a traditional Church structure, containing more straightforward, rectangular lines, the appearance more temple like or even masonic, once the lights are lowered, St Philips exudes an atmosphere of eeriness, perfectly complementing the influences behind the new record.

To open the evening, we are treated to the sights and sounds of North Wales duo Golden Fable, a project compromising Tim McIver and Rebecca Palin two members of Tim and Sam’s Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam.  Tonight finds Tim resplendent in silver waistcoat and tie, Rebecca contrasting visually with black cocktail dress and furry tiara rising  plume like above her head.  Their sound reveals an amalgamation of distinct opposites, melodic guitar accompanies Palin’s gorgeously distinct choral vocal to open, before the additional use of electronic beats and rhythms add weight to the song structures. 

 

Whilst initially, their music captivates, as the set progresses an impression something is missing is left, an additional element requires introduction to draw the audience further into their world.  I’d certainly recommend however, closing track and new single “The Chill Pt.2” as an introduction to their undoubted talents. http://goldenfable.com/album/the-chill-pt-2

Basing a tour around the supernatural and hauntings, the inclusion of Manchester’s own Alabaster DePlume proves a masterstroke. DePlume’s on stage persona oozes an aura of otherworldliness and quintessentially English eccentricity from yesteryear, mixing fascinating poetry, simplistic although enthralling compositions and audience interaction injected with darkly dry humour, all delivered with dead pan expression, slightly reminiscent  of Jake Thackray. To further enhance a correlation Alabaster ends by way of “With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm” a song from the 1930’s outlining the haunting of The Tower of London by Anne Boleyn in response to her beheading by Henry VIII. www.alabasterdeplume.com

This proves not to be the last we see or hear from Alabaster, appearing once again, providing a poetic introduction prior to the headliners commencing with “In the Attic.” With new album “Miss You in the Days” The Miserable Rich incorporate new dynamics, the inclusion of drums and electric guitar adding additional substance to their classically based opuses and guitarist Ricky Pritchard, along with bass player Rhys Lovell also provide visual divergence, more indie rock than chamber pop.

The main set constitutes purely of songs taken from their most recent album released to coincide with Halloween just a few days ago.  It’s testament to the quality of the latest material , if the band had chosen not to include anything from debut “Twelve Ways to Count” or second outing “Of Flight and Fury” we would still have emerged into the murky streets of Salford, having witnessed a thoroughly entertaining and spellbinding performance from the Brighton sextet.  A true ethereal beauty proliferates within the sound of The Miserable Rich, which the themes of ghosts, sex and death constituting “Miss You in the Days” complement perfectly.   Further enhancing the unearthly atmosphere, after vocalist James De Malplaquet introduces current single “On a Certain Night” based on his first girlfriend’s perceived possession, technical problems affect Pritchard’s acoustic guitar, leading to the song being played for the first time with an electric, coincidence perhaps, although the video I filmed highlights in particular De Malplaquet and cellist Will Calderbank as glowing ghostly apparitions.  A trick of the light, or something more sinister, I’ll leave you to decide.

During an interview undertaken with James prior to the gig, he suggests The Miserable Rich aren’t a fashionable band in the U.K, possibly explaining the lack of numbers attending tonight, surely fashion nonetheless shouldn’t detract from one of England’s most talented and inimitable outfits, who three albums down the line go from strength to absolute strength.  De Maplaquet’s exquisitely controlled and plaintive vocals, always an absolute joy to behold, although just as intrinsic, the sheer magnificence of Mike Siddell’s violin, particularly during “Under Glass” the speed and intensity of the playing taking the strings to breaking point. The sheer passion further projected by his shadow dancing manically on the church wall behind.   

For the encore, the band leaves the stage, exhibiting a particular intimacy with their audience.  After a lengthy debate between the assembled congregation and De Malplaquet as to whether “Boat Song” or “Pisshead” should be aired, the sensible decision of playing both is taken.  “Boat Song” especially providing an opportunity to witness The Miserable Rich at their superlative best, producing a tender, exquisite unplugged rendition, leaving everyone in attendance the memory of witnessing something exceptionally special.  Even though the curfew has passed, we are allowed the additional pleasure of one last song “True Love” bringing an extraordinary night to a close.  

The Miserable Rich should be regarded as a national treasure, the fact they aren’t, unfortunately testament to the U.K’s general lack of attention to an underground scene which constantly produces talented musicians and lyricists worth a much wider and appreciative audience.

Set List

In the Attic
Imperial Lines
Laid Up in Lavender
Honesty
On a Certain Night
The China Shop of Dreams
Tramps
Under Glass
Pillion
Ringing the Changes

Encore

Boat Song
Piss Head
True Love

www.themiserablerich.com

Review By Andy Barnes
Photos by Russ Learmont