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21st June 2015

Live: The Nightingales

“We tend to see ourselves as better than most other bands” claim the Nightingales, while Tom Learmouth sees just how truthful they really are…

18th May

Kraak Gallery


A sparsely populated Northern Quarter welcomed cult Birmingham post-punk band The Nightingales on Monday night. Their support act was long-term mate of The Nightingales, stand-up Ted Chippington – “the first post-alternative comedian”. Ted’s attempt to create humour by telling unfunny jokes and mundane “true stories” in a deadpan, bored voice certainly had no blueprint when he began supporting bands in the early 1980s. Unknown to most then and now, he had a massive impact on well-known comedians such as Stewart Lee, Richard Herring, Phill Jupitus and Simon Munnery.

A few minutes after Ted, The Nightingales took to the stage in shiny pink shirts – it was decided that Mancunians “like that sort of thing”. A John Peel favourite for much of the 1980s, The Nightingales reformed in 2004 and have released a string of albums since. They currently consist of singer-songwriter Robert Lloyd and guitarist Alan Apperley from the original line-up, singing-drummer Fliss Kitson from Violet Violet, and the former bassist of krautrock band Faust, Andreas Schmid.

In just over an hour, The Nightingales raced through their set without a single pause between songs. The majority of tracks came from their new album Mind over Matter, and included an authentic sweep through most rock and roll derived genres. A krautrock-rooted post-punk rhythm and momentum drove a set full of poppy melody. Highlights included ‘The Man that Time Forgot’, and the sardonic ‘Great British Exports’ – in which Lloyd observers, “everybody likes Midsomer Murders, everybody digs Mumford & Sons, sons, sons”. “We tend to see ourselves as better than most other bands”, Lloyd dryly declared during ‘Gales Doc’ – a self-aware perception.

The main disappointments of the gig had little to do with The Nightingales’ performance. The Kraak sound system (as is often the case with smaller venues) failed to fully give The Nightingales’ sound the justice it deserved, and the fact the gallery was nowhere near full meant the gig was always lacking in atmosphere. This didn’t bother The Nightingales, as they attacked their songs with nonchalant passion and energy.

The Gales deserve another surge in cult popularity – their recent output is as good as anything they’ve released. Save BBC 6 Music, The Nightingales have had very little media recognition since their comeback – making it difficult for them to attract a larger following. Unquestionably, they warrant far more attention than they get. I would recommend the “sonically more interesting than most” Nightingales to everyone – their new album Mind over Matter is the perfect place to start.

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