Wave Machines / Portasound

The Bodega Social Club, Nottingham on Tue 5th Feb 2013

Dear Joanne,

I hope you don't mind me writing to you like this. I guess it will come somewhat out of the blue. But tonight I've been to see Wave Machines and I couldn't help but think back to when we saw them together three years ago in that festival tent. I recall that you were quite taken with them. And so I spent most of this gig thinking about you and wondering what you might be doing now.

The band were playing at the Nottingham Bodega Social Club tonight - you remember that place don't you from when we were studying? It's the one with the really nice bar downstairs with the jukebox packed full of too cool for school CD's. Tonight I put on some Nicolas Jaar, Frank Ocean and Tame Impala before heading upstairs into the venue.

I should tell you about the support - I recall how you always insisted on seeing the support whilst I saw it as time to drink more beer. I'm not drinking now so I watched Portasound in full. They mightn't have been your thing for they were an instrumental act and I know how much you appreciate your lyrics. There were five of them on stage, a mix of wonky guitars and synth, pounding bass and desperate drumming. The room was a quarter full at best and the band battled gamely to keep the attention of the audience. They played four tunes but as this was all instrumental some tracks might have merged into others. The new EP, 'Sacrifice' to be released next week was mentioned and the track played from it 'Time Lost' was their highlight – four words repeated over and over until a beat kicked in. The Tuesday night Nottingham crowd clapped politely but I can see a more battered festival tent lapping this sort of stuff up.

9pm on the dot and Wave Machines took to the stage. Have you heard their new album 'Pollen'? People are saying that it's a darker, less obvious release than their first album. Still electro-pop, still clever, still full of falsetto melody but perhaps a bit more reserved, a bit more subtle..... And I suppose this is true but after a number of listens I'm really liking it. I think you will too. The opening four songs were all from the new album and if I'm honest the audience seemed reticent to get involved. It's true though that 'I Hold Loneliness' at least got some nods of recognition after its recent 6 Music play-listing. 'Counting Birds', the opening track from 'Pollen' had to be restarted after singer, Tim Bruzon stumbled over the words - but his explanation that "there's lots of words in this song and they all come in a certain order" defrosted the audience somewhat and from here on in the audience were on side.

'Wave If You're Really There' also started in abortive fashion - with Bruzon saying that the audience were getting their money's worth tonight. It wasn't obvious when we saw them at that festival but Wave Machines swap instruments and vocal responsibilities more willingly than a parcel getting passed at a child's birthday party. It's grown adults on a musical roundabout spinning ever faster. When multi-instrumentalist Carl Brown sings "wave if you're really there", I find myself wondering why a bald man is still able to grow a stunning beard. 'You Say The Stupidest Things' is the next tune to be played and I'm reminded that I sometimes think the stupidest things.

Joanne, do you still listen to Hot Chip? You'd love 'Ill Fit' and tonight it comes across like a great slab of shimmering funk. The falsetto vocals and the melody to this are what Prince has been looking for for years. He should cover it.

Bruzon urges those members of the audience (possibly the bulk of them) who are slyly watching towards the back of the room to move forward and for the last few numbers it feels like we have a gig on our hands. 'Keep The Light On' passes in a blur and in 'The Greatest Escape We Ever Made' Wave Machines prove that they could quite easily cut it as an indie guitar band if that was their bent. But I'm glad it's not. It is the variety in this gig, the constant swap-around of instrumentation, the slow burn that has kept me enthralled.

'Dead Houses' gets an airing with Norwegian drummer, Vidar Norheim taking lead vocal responsibility. Here we have hand clapping and an in tune clarinet to keep us company. The band are rolling now, desperate to finish their set before the hideously early 10PM curfew kicks in. 'Pollen' begins eerily and remains haunting throughout. I later discover that this is an eulogy to those Chinese Cockle pickers tragically killed at Morecambe Bay. The band plead with the sound desk to let them play at least one of their two final numbers even though the curfew time has passed. The audience, loving this now, are asked to choose between the sly electro-pop funk of 'I Go I Go I Go' or my personal favourite from their first album, 'Punk Spirit'. The band show that they have punk spirit in spades by playing both despite the protestations of the venue.

Joanne, I do hope that you don't mind me writing after all of this time? I'd love to hear from you about what you're doing now. Perhaps we could even see Wave Machines together sometime soon? I think you'll still love them,

Yours always,

article by: Sean Tizzard

published: 08/02/2013 10:34


sorry, we currently have no gigs listed for this act.

more about Wave Machines
more about Portasound
more about Bodega Social Club, Nottingham