Monday, November 03, 2008
Tilly and the Wall @ ULU, 25 October 2008
Things have changed in the world of Tilly and the Wall. The last time I saw them was back at the first End of the Road festival in September 2006, and I look back to then and the previous months with some nostalgia. Fun times, watching the Omaha quintet all over the place at a time before the the Baby Growl arrived to change our lives forever. Perhaps it was fitting that this was the first time Mrs Growl and I have been at a gig together since our lives were changed.
Then again, things haven’t changed that much. There’s still the dayglo exuberance (surely in parallel universe, most of the band would be children’s TV presenters). There are still the highly infectious tunes. And of course there’s the tap-dancing. The things that have changed are exactly what caused the problems tonight. If had to review this gig in less than 10 words, they would be: GET RID OF THE BASS PLAYER.
There are two extra members in T&TW now – a bass player and a drummer. They’re touring their new album (is it really called ‘O’ just because there’s a circle on the cover?) which is another fine addition to the Tilly canon. But from the start of this gig there’s a problem. The new beefed-up bass sound swamps almost everything else. Now I know that there’s an issue of bad sound mixing, and it does get a bit better as the gig progresses, but generally, the sound of Tilly cranking it up is just not fitting. Their songs are shiny pop nuggets that don’t benefit from The Rock.
Then there’s the vocals. What seems so sweet and harmonious on record is often strained and tuneless as the various singers shout out their parts. Now, I’m not talking about guitarist Derek Pressnall here – he can’t sing for toffee and should never be allowed to do so – it’s the girls that I expect more from. Particularly on a shocking cover of Erasure’s A Little Respect, which could have been so much better. But ultimately, I guess I should just relax a little. I suppose you don’t go to see Tilly and the Wall for a highly competent, slick performance, you go for FUN. And Fun was had. New songs were played. Old songs are played to much cheer. And there are smiles on faces, particularly during The Freest Man, Reckless and cracking new single Beat Control. So all in, a bit of a mixed bag of an evening. Still, I can highly recommend the new album, which comes with all tonight's creases ironed out.
mp3: Tilly and the Wall - Tall Tall Grass
mp3: Tilly and the Wall - Sing Songs Along
Tilly and the Wall myspace / website
Buy O and other T&TW releases from Rough Trade or emusic.