Friday 18 January 2013

James MacGregor of Head of Programmes - Live at The Last Shop Standing, Plymouth, December 22nd 2012

Review by

I turned up slightly late for this little gig and walking in was quite taken aback by the ambiance here - a lone, confident electric guitar doing P.J Harvey-style lilts and luminous things in a room of twenty people, one settee, 30 or so record sleeves front facing on special shelves (mostly new, though some Flaming Lips was noticed) a purple and black psychedelic print with triskele-like designs covering the entire wall behind him, like it was some 60’s lounge. Jim MacGregor enchanted us with a very fine performance, showcasing mostly his new material from his band's new album 'Spring' and seemingly doing so with the knowledge that it was some kind of personal perfection. A great accomplishment for one man sitting alone on a small ledge, but a very fine experience for everyone involved who appreciated these strangely soulful bleaknesses reminiscent of some Mazzy Star, also some young Richard Hawley before he was found…?

The tracks were slow but always rising in temperature as if they were hidden treasures becoming more and more revealed – something which proved very likeable for the ear at such an intimate gig, and from such a deep couch. Lyrics like "In the dark, in the sun, we are both alone" expressing the essence of what was being told in this little venue, The Last Shop Standing. In between songs he kept us all assured we were not at a mainstream event of any kind with his comedic, dry wit and willfully oblique references. At times I could be reminded a little of live performances from the Spiritualized album 'Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space'. However, the PJ Harvey and John Parish album 'A Woman A Man Walked By' was the real taste we were experiencing here.

Two covers, one about an elephant boy; 'Sabu Visits The Twin Towers Alone' by John Prine; and a really fine cover of Smog’s 'Teenage Spaceship' sealed the evening. Listening to Smog’s original afterwards I found I preferred the sound of it live, played earlier in the evening. An excellent combination of outstanding, original song material, great covers, in a new record shop which has appeared beside (or almost) Really Good Records, Bretonside. If there are to be more gigs here like this particular one (which there are, so I hear) then it is very good news for the city of Plymouth indeed.

Waiting Room Number Head Of Programmes - Waiting Room Number

Forever Head Of Programmes - Forever

Head Of Programmes' website

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