We keep writing about Bleeding Hearts, but then they consistently keep putting on great gigs, and this month was no exception.
First up last night was Al Chamberlain. When I spoke to Bleeding Hearts top dog Chris Davies at the bar before the gig, he described Al as a “professional Northerner, who does a song about trains”, which was certainly true, but doesn’t really tell the half of it. Al reminded me a lot of The Montgolfier Brothers, one of the bands that Alan McGee pinned his hope on with Poptones, his project after the closure of Creation Records. Despite nobody I’ve ever met having heard of them, The Montgolfier Brothers are one of my favourite bands – they make beautiful songs with lyrics about being at the precipice of the end of a relationship which are very well observed and utterly heartbreaking at the same time, and Al’s songs had similar qualities. Perhaps the most famous song about trains is The Locomotion, which doesn’t really sit alongside the acoustic aesthetic of Bleeding Hearts. In Al Chamberlain’s song about trains, tracks and stations become metaphors for components of relationships and by the end everything’s ok, both with the relationship in the song and with any fears about the handling of locomotive based songs.
Monday’s second act was Ingrid Plum. Ingrid sang solo a capella folk songs, unencumbered by other musicians or instruments. Of the four songs she sang three were her own compositions but you wouldn’t know it and could easily have mistaken them for traditional songs hundreds of years old. Her fourth piece was a cover of Chris T-T’s M1 Song, made her own in the same style. It was an electric performance which had the room held in silent captivity hanging on every note. Ingrid has just released an EP – head over to her Facebook page to find out how to get hold of a copy.
It was all change for third band The Droplets, who also featured Al Chamberlain on guitar. The Droplets also live in the past musically, but instead of hundreds of years old folk music they play 70s AOR, covering the likes of Randy Newman and Big Star. Musically it was note perfect, but it was the voice that made it something special.
Finally, it was the turn of Steve Elston, who had apparently played quite a few of the early Bleeding Hearts nights, before disappearing off their radar. He’s turned up again playing guitar for Das Fenster (who completely coincidentally Ingrid also sings backing vocals for), and has made a return to Bleeding Hearts. If you weren’t looking you could have been forgiven for thinking that there was more than one person on stage, such was the sound emanating from the speakers. I don’t want to throw words like this around lightly, but Steve may possibly be the best guitarist we’ve written about at Brighton Music Blog. His fingers performed feats of technical brilliance, yet the music that was made had a degree of tenderness rarely seen alongside this level of ability. Utterly breathtaking.