Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Curious Generation @ The Troubadour: Jacob Golden/ The Sylvias/ The Battle Of Land And Sea

Yesterday evening (03/06/08) my husband and I paid a visit to The Troubadour Club in Earls Court, London to see Jacob Golden perform his final gig of the UK leg of his tour.

After the ridiculously slow service in the restaurant section (¾ hour to get some hummus and pita bread and cheese on toast- surely that’s one of the easiest requests off the menu –Gordon Ramsey?!), we moved downstairs to the club just in time to catch the first act of the night: Portland based ‘The Battle Of Land And Sea’.

Photo #1: The Battle of Land and Sea @ The Troubadour

With Jacob Golden playing stand in guitar, lead singer Sarah O’Shura took to the stage kicking off the evening’s proceedings. Her soft, haunting vocals soon grabbed the audience’s attention. I did feel it took a few songs for Sarah to find her groove, but once there it was a mesmerizing performance ending on a high note with a superb rendition of one of my favourite TBOLAS tracks, ‘The Beautiful Ones’ from the self-titled album. Another highlight was the fantastic ‘Salt Water Queen’ complete with echoed slide guitar. Their music has been described as “dark, sparse, intimate, and brilliant” and I totally agree. Definitely an act to catch this summer if you get the chance.

The second act of the night was The Sylvias: a four piece band from the UK who I hadn’t previously heard of apart from the research I did on their MySpace page yesterday afternoon. They played folk style music with a rock feel. Although they gave a convincingly tight, energetic performance with strong vocals, the songs were disappointingly predictable.

Photo #2: Jacob Golden @ The Troubadour

The headliner, Jacob Golden, kicked off his set with ‘Pretend’ from his latest album Revenge Songs. Looking very much at ease on stage he also played a song that to my knowledge is yet to be recorded but I had heard played a couple of days before at our living room gig. The song was called ‘Bluebird’ (I think!), feel free to check out my video of it on You Tube. He then played ‘On A Saturday’ (his latest single released on May 26th) encouraging the audience to sing along – something of a struggle with your typical London audience, but he got us there in the end. One of the highlights of the evening for me was his take on The Descendants song ‘Merican’ from their 2004 EP of the same name. This is also the B-side to 'On A Saturday'. Loved the lyrics:

I come from the land of Ben Franklin
and Poe and Walt Whitman
Redding, Ellington,
The country that I love
But it's a land of the slaves and the ku klux
Haymarket riot and the great depression
Joe McCarthy,
The sickest joke I know

Listen up man, I'll tell you who I am
Just another stupid american
You don't wanna listen
You don't wanna understand
So finish up your drink and go home

Far removed from the initial version, Jacob created an incredibly touching atmospheric acoustic rendition of the punk original. His voice, strong but sensitive, was perfect for the job and left the audience breathless. .

Unfortunately, chatter from the bar area of the club got increasingly louder as Jacob’s performance drew to a close. This was no reflection on his performance; the audience were enjoying the spectacle and Jacob’s music as usual fostered an atmosphere of introspection and tenderness. I felt the noise did affect his performance to a certain degree and was disappointed the guys and garls at the bar couldn’t take the hint from the people shouting “shush!” repeatedly. Jacob brought the evenings proceedings to an end with the last track off Revenge Songs, ‘Zero Integrity’. I think that this is a great closing song, sung in almost a whisper it gently concludes the set, nursing you back to the real world.

Aside from the annoying bar noise, it was a great night and nice to get the chance to meet and hear Jacob and Sarah again. Their acts work very nicely in tandem, both play emotional, intimate music, but approaching their subjects from different angles: Sarah playing with gently evolving melodies and Jacob full of breaks and sudden tempo changes. They are now heading to the US to begin the next leg of the tour, for more details try their MySpace pages.

Useful Links:

Jacob Golden MySpace

The Battle Of Land And Sea MySpace

The Sylvias MySpace

Here is the video of Jacob Golden's performance of 'Bluebird' in my living room last Saturday.

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