22nd March 2009
How many times have you gone to see a band, or an artist – a band or an artist you’ve heard good studio tracks from – but when you get there, when you saw and heard them ‘live’, you were disappointed?
Did you hear jerky vocals from both the up-front and the backing? Was there some dodgy timing from the drummer? Suspect bass notation? An over-ambitious lead guitar? And all finished off with an unmanaged sound system?
And it’s the big names who suffer with dips in performance as well as the lesser known artists; I once drove 300Kms to see ELO live in Brussels (hey, it was a very long time ago) and frankly, that night in Belgium, ELO sucked donkey balls.
So what, I asked myself, were we going to get from Oxfordshire-based foursome ‘inLight’ at The Bullingdon, a 250-person capacity venue on Oxford’s Cowley Road, in the heart of Studentdigsville?
What, I wondered, was going to come our way through the probably iffy, hazy, low-level lighting and an in-house sound system?
I’ll tell you; we got excellence my friend. It was pure, brilliant, wonderful indie-genre excellence.
The band (more about the individuals in a minute) walked on and just went straight in to it with a beautifully held sequence of sliding chords from the lead guitar. These gorgeously made peals were accompanied by some very solid rhythm guitar work, which was soon joined by the bass and percussion which, instead of demolishing the intricately-constructed piece apart, served to build on the experience.
And what an experience it was, because that gently sliding, haunting, ethereal-quality lead guitar raised the hairs on the back of my neck; that artistry would not have disgraced an undiscovered corner of Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’ (one of the greatest pieces of showcase guitar work in the history of… history).
inLight’s guitar-work isn’t flashy like some pretenders to the throne. It is full of substance and beauty and structure and timing and… love. Because that curly-haired guitarist from Oxfordshire? He loved those notes and he loved the way his guitar spoke through him.
But no, this was neither the fantastic Dave Gilmour, nor any other incarnation of Pink Floyd. This was inLight; four thoroughly nice, educated, studentish-looking lads from Oxfordshire. Four lads capable of writing and performing original work that will have you walking around the office days later saying for the dozenth time to your colleagues ‘I went to a great gig last weekend!’
Believe me, inLight are that infectious. inLight’s music is a series of intricately-woven melodies that carry your feelings in a most evocative way. There are refrains that soar ever higher and there are lyrics that have been written by someone with a brain, a real brain; someone who writes intellectual, thoughtful lyrics.
‘Peaked too soon’, I thought as they cleverly drew their first number down to a delicate segue in to their next song. And how wrong was I to even suggest that a band this clever would condescend to peak that early?
In a music world currently beset by mediocrity, where studio-bound artists occasionally permit some carefully rehearsed set-pieces to be dragged out and given an airing in front of a live audience, it is pure joy to watch, listen to and experience four talented musicians who genuinely enjoy performing their art for their audience.
At the end of the set inLight closed with ‘Icarus’, a prime example of indie-driven anthemic goodness. Whilst a large number of new bands are scrabbling around trying to sound like tomorrow’s ‘Arctic Monkeys’, inLight gives anyone who is seriously interested in quality music a real alternative. This is probably the best unsigned indie music act in the UK today.
Charlie Cooke (vocals, piano, synths, guitar)
Mike Riddle (lead guitar)
Johnny Hunter (bass)
Pete Lawless (drums)