Whilst thousands of people vacuously departed the Nottingham Arena having endured a JLS concert tonight Cat and I were smiling on the way back to the car having been treated to not just the headline act we’d planned to see, but two new support acts. For the price of one JLS ticket we both had something to eat in a nearby restaurant, a few drinks and entry to tonight’s gig to see the Moulettes. Pretty bargainous really.
I find it both sad and kinda nice that it’s this way – a few dozen folk nestled in the intimate enclave that is the Glee Club in Nottingham to appreciate what I would wager, not being a connoisseur of the JLS back catalogue, a spectacularly more significant array of talent than the multitude of arena drones, but really it deserves to be the other way around.
First on stage was Georgie Rose from our very own Nottinghamshire, Mansfield to be precise. She immediately and confidently took to the stage with a virtuoso display of picking on a guitar accompanied by a fantastic voice. Her ability to pick through the strings on the guitar simultaneously mesmerises me – and gives a rich sound that sounds almost like there’s a bass guitar in the mix somewhere too.
Definitely one to check out if you see her on any local billings.
Next up was Liz Green who has accompanied the Moulettes throughout their recent touring. Initially performing with a guitar she interchanged between that and a keyboard, and played both deftly – her songs were fun and charming and energetic with some fun banter with the crowd in between to boot. Oh, and how could I forget the mouse trumpet solo? Another charming performance that left me feeling like I’d already had value for money out of my ticket before the headline act was even on stage.
One of the things I really like about heading out to a gig where you know the main act is the potential to pick up on some new ones – indeed, that’s how I discovered the Moulettes initially from their supporting the Levellers on their acoustic tour a couple of years ago. Sometimes it can be hit and miss, tonight it felt like we hit the jackpot twice before the main act even came on which is always a lovely happenstance!
The Moulettes took to the stage, a slightly adjusted line up to that which I’d seen before. Hannah Miller provides the lead vocals whilst playing either cello or guitar, Ollie Austin plays guitar, drums, glockenspiel whilst also providing backing vocals/sound effects (often three or more at the same time!), Jim Mortimore plays double bass and backing vocals whilst Anisa Arslanagic overlays her violin and also backing vocals. They were joined for a number of songs by a harp and clarinet player who also sang backing vocals too – I’m afraid I couldn’t find her name though 😦
The melodic and sometimes hypnotic strings combined with melodic and harmonised vocals underpinned by punchy and ever-changing rhythms gives them a sound that I find difficult to describe given my lack of musical understanding. It’s awesome though, and it’s brought alive on stage by the expressive and infectiously enthusiastic reactions from the band.
Not only are these wonderfully accomplished musicians impressing with their abilities – it’s clear they’re really enjoying themselves, as they lock eyes momentarily with each other to keep time as a beat switches from a waltz to something much faster – or an abrupt silence – you catch fleeting smiles, eye sparkles and a joy to just be playing. Each of them is mesmerising to watch if you take a few minutes to observe them during a song.
Hannah betrays nearly every feeling that runs through the songs with her facial expressions, and even the soaring temperature in the venue causing her to forget a few words didn’t throw her off stride for too long as a helpful audience member in the front row helped her get back on track.
Ollie really destroys the notion that blokes can’t multitask, switching from guitar to full on drumming in seconds, he’ll then bring back the guitar but carry on the percussion with feet and hands in between strums all whilst never missing the moments when his vocals are needed too, all delivered with a brilliantly casual and relaxed demeanour that betrays how much expertise and concentration is being demonstrated out there.
Jim gives the bassy oomph at the perfect moment when slow ballads kick in to a darker atmospheric mood or more of a stomping tune and too is on hand to lend his vocals to the harmony mix that is impressive in its own right before you consider the complex layers of instrumental accompaniment underpinning it.
Anisa’s violin gives that high end melodic accompaniment to its larger relatives in the string section – anyone who knows me will note the violin is often present in my favourite music, it gives real soul and emotion somehow to a piece of music when used well – and it is here, Anisa too adds to the overall vocal harmonising too.
Whilst nestled in the corner of the stage for only some of the set the harp, clarinet and backing vocals of the lady whose name I don’t know (sorry!) added that extra layer to the whirling dervish that Moulettes songs become.
The set was a mixture of the familiar and songs from the new album that is due out next spring. Whilst I do like Moulettes recordings very much, they never seem to quite capture the vibrancy of their live performances (something not uncommon with many artists I like, I might add!), however, I’d recommend checking some out nonetheless.
So for a mere £8 a piece we were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of excellent music – I’ll be certainly exploring more of Georgia and Liz’s respective music and look forward to the forthcoming Moulettes album. I quite enjoyed the Glee Club as a venue too – the seats got a bit uncomfortable after a while and sitting down at a gig is a bit, well, weird – but worked well for this more relaxed and melodic gig to those I typically find myself at.
It will be interesting to see if they opt for a seated arrangement for when we go to see The Beards play there in February!
I tell you what else is good about The Glee Club too, because they unusually insist you arrive between 7:30 and 8:00, it gets everyone in the venue and settled in plenty of time before the entertainment starts – and there was no background chatter or interruptions I could detect during the performances (something I’m normally very sensitive to and irked by) – either it was down to that or a particularly polite and attentive crowd.
Either way, it made for a splendidly enjoyable evening!