A few weeks back now I was lucky enough to see Kate Jackson and her band, the Wrong Moves launch their new album, “British Road Movies”. Since the amicable break-up of the Long Blondes back in 2008 triggered by the sudden illness of guitarist and songwriter Dorian Cox (happily back to health and recording again now…), Kate spent time living and painting in Rome before returning to write this new album with the help of Bernard Butler in West Heath studios, London. A little internet sleuthing turned up a few examples of Kate’s artwork and I have to say her paintings of British post-war, brutalist architecture are incredibly eye-catching. They seem to span the space between design and more abstract forms with block colours and sweeping geometric forms that would be perfectly at home on a lavish 1930’s art deco advertising poster. Kate’s palette of shades of beige and and softened grey brings warmth to the often stark concrete or industrial forms she paints, and once set in solid block skies of blue, orange and on occasion oppressive thunder-cloud grey, imbues much maligned, but distinctly British architectural form with a subtle touch of glamour and rose-tinted wistful romance.
Perhaps it was the next logical step for Kate to translate the aesthetic so carefully rendered in her painting in to music with “British Road Movies” being the result? The soundcheck hinted at a harder, heavier edge than if, like me, you were expecting dreamy music inspired by sweeping motorway bends and long car journey’s across the rolling British countryside beginning as it did with the insistent thunder-clap of Shannon Hope’s drumming followed by Seymour Quigley’s jangling, Butler-esque guitar. The stage set up gave Seymour plenty of room to move, again suggesting a pent up energy ready to be unleashed when the set proper began. The band were clearly impressed by the quality of the on-stage sound and as the soundcheck reached its conclusion it was clear that the band were relaxing in to their performance and really enjoying playing together.
Lampy used her birdies to wash the front of the stage with a warm amber white light and focus the powerbricks on the back of the stage to give a really nice colour differential which made getting some good shots much easier.
The set itself was excellent, filled with movement, energy and the clear joy of really good musicians feeling everything fitting together perfectly in their performance. Kate’s lyrics and melodies are perfectly augmented by Butler’s colourful guitar technique, executed with a real flourish by Seymour. Of course there are shades of the Long Blondes in there, how could there not be with Kate’s distinctive vocal style? But the fact is, whilst there’s a common ancestral root, and the gloriously infectious poppy hooks of the Long Blondes characteristic Sheffield sound are hardwired in the genome of this music, it is a world away from what’s gone before. This is the confident musical expression of a very personally felt artistic concept given joyous energy, and a sharper, more urgent edge by the contributions of the Wrong Moves. It’s a lot of fun and wholly absorbing!
Rough Trade East – 20/05/2016