We were pleased to arrive at the Komedia early for the support act, the wonderful Kristin McClement who we interviewed on these pages only recently. Beginning with ‘Mouthful Of Shells’ from her album ‘The Wild Grips’, Kristine proceeded to play an old song, ‘Bells Once Rang’ from her first EP, and then four songs that were new to these ears, and captured well her Sibylle Baier / Nick Drake vibe. The Komedia provided a perfect stage and the early audience were generous with their appreciation.
The Leisure Society aren’t quite an English institution but they sometimes feel like they are. Lead singer Nick Hemmings announced they felt they were playing a hometown gig, but admitted it also felt like that in London and Nottingham. Christian Hardy joked that if he paid his rent more often he wouldn’t have to move around so much. In any case, there was a small stage invasion by a group of the band’s friends for the final song ‘Forever Shall We Wait’ (from 2013’s ‘Alone Aboard The Ark’), but as this was the Leisure Society, the invaders were all smiles and polite dancing.
The band’s new album ‘The Fine Art Of Hanging On’ is another collection of songs featuring Nick Hemming’s trademark intelligent lyrics and the band’s warm quasi-orchestral folk-pop melodies. The cover is again by Brighton’s Owen Davey, looking again like the next volume in the collected works of Nick Hemming, each different but all of a style and very much of a piece. The thing about the Leisure Society is that you know their sound the moment a song starts. There’s a familiarity that breeds warmth without managing to sound bland. The album’s familiar feel probably means it won’t set many end-of-year lists alight or win over new fans, but that’s a shame because the songs are very good indeed.
The album was partly inspired by the death to cancer of a close friend, and there is a certain seriousness to the new songs with which they open the set, although the stand-out ‘Outside In’ picks up the pace a little. The lead single ‘Tall Black Cabins’ inspired by fishermen’s nets on Hastings beach also had the feel of a familiar friend, despite being just a couple of weeks old. These songs did not sound out of place set next to the band’s better known tracks, such as the award-winning ‘Last Of The Melting Snow’ or the exquisite ‘We Were Wasted’. Then the pace quickened with ‘Dust On The Dancefloor’, “another song channelling the rich seam of late 1990s Midlands clubbing” according to Nick, and the gig took on a party feel. ‘Save It For Someone Who Cares’ had the whole room moving.
Coming off their UK tour, the band were tight and it felt disappointing when the concert had to end. Monday nights are hard. Mumford and Sons were playing their (shhh, secret) gig down the road but I think the crowd in the Komedia might have got the better deal.
Komedia, Monday 27th April 2015
Words and photos by Jon Southcoasting