CQAF: Field Music - Black Box, Belfast
CQAF: Field Music, The Dudley Corporation
Black Box, Belfast
Monday 7th May 2012
Slap bang in the middle of the ten-day long festivities, Belfast is treated to one of more highly anticipated shows of this year’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. After a whirlwind six months that’s seen a much deserved upsurge of recognition, both critically and commercially, of their many talents, Sunderland prog-pop band Field Music bring their clever yet whimsical brand of carefully-considered pop to the intimate surroundings of the Black Box.
With a steady stream of people making their way into the venue, Dublin’s The Dudley Corporation get things underway, having played Belfast a number of times over the last decade. Over several masterfully erratic songs, the three-piece’s unorthodox guitar-pop melds Sebadoh, Polvo and the Minutemen to reveal a band still with very few rivals in this country for playing such jaw-droppingly defined noise-pop.
Having happily set up beforehand themselves, Field Music – with its core members, brothers David and Peter Brewis – start into ‘Start The Day Right’, the first song from their latest album, Plumb. A swift segue into the skilfully inspired prog of ‘It’s Okay To Change’ and the slightly vaudevillian approach of ‘Sorry Again, Mate’ sees glorious dual harmonies, veering melodic interludes and characteristically suburban English ruminations from Peter on keys.
The crowd are immediately smitten; a small group of Field Music’s Belfast faithful congregating near the front of the stage. With ovation in the air, Peter switches on drums, and David onto guitar, the former proving an equal force on 'Rockist Part 4' from David’s 2008 album as School Of Language, Sea From Shore. With a burgeoning groove evoking a more sentimental revision of Zeppelin’s ‘The Rover’, it stands out as a highlight early on from the band. The perfect pop continues on the fantastically fidgety ‘Shorter Shorter’ from their 2005 debut album, all four members singing in choral unison at its outro.
It’s at this point David announces, “How lovely it is to play Belfast again” - having last the Black Box as part of School of Language in September 2008 - before ‘This Is The Picture’ rears its head. Primarily thanks to David's stuttering guitar playing and falsetto vocals, the song’s psych-pop equally evokes Of Montreal’s kaleidoscopic pop and Flaming Lips circa At War With The Mystics. We are then treated to the pointed groove of ‘In Context’ from the band’s 2007 second album Tones of Town - the second time they’ve played it since 2006 – on-the-ball bassist Ian Black once again proving his note-perfect prowess.
While the yearning of 'From Hide and Seek To Heartache' - played only once before - proves the most affecting number tonight, it’s closer ‘(I Keep Thinking) About A New Thing’ with its distillation of the band’s keen sense of melody, eccentricity and musicianship that stands out most in the end. A final encore of their Record Store Day song, a cover of Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Heart’ (what else?) and the Paul McCartney-esque ‘A House Is Not A Home’ concludes the band’s set to a huge ovation. Field Music’s command of prog-pop has very few comparisons and tonight we’ve witnessed an intimate, criminally underattended display of their exquisite talents.