And so to the Wednesday night, with the chance to see three quite different but equally appealing bands in very much different stages of their respective trajectories (but more about that later). Put simply Haiku Salut are a wonderfully infectious, rambunctious, and perhaps a little ramshackle sometime electro alternative trad all female three piece instrumental band...oh, and are utterly impossible to take your eyes and ears off of. I'm quite certain that this must be a popular consensus as the atmosphere throughout the set was intense to say the least. They are one of very few bands who can render a crowd entirely speechless to such an extent that there wasn't even any background chatter audible during the quieter elements of the set!! They also happen to have just released a debut album called Tricolore on the How Does It Feel To Be Loved label which I for one bought immediately after their set.
The midsection of the night was dealt with by Shrag, in somewhat bittersweet circumstances given that this was to be their second last ever show before heading their separate ways. Incidentally, the last show is scheduled to take place on the 15th March also at the Lexington. The band played as exceptional a blistering set as ever, as if to not allow those present to dwell too long on the impending melancholic realisation that only a couple of hours of such perfect noise was destined to be heard in the flesh before it is lost to time. They remain everything that anyone could realistically want from an indie band (or any band for that matter) and rattled through a glorious set with only the occasional unplanned (broken guitar string related) awkwardly entertaining intermission where Helen kept the crowd entertained while Darren Hayman acted as impromptu guitar tech! Truly one of a kind, a sad but ultimately uplifting experience...
Headlining after what had already gone by could only be left to one band, and that band was Darren Hayman and the Long Parliament, who can somehow always create a unique quietly raucous atmosphere without the crowd entirely realising what has happened. If any other band can mix a top rate back catalogue with a suite of six new songs from a semi-concept album telling the story of the 17th Century Essex witch trials then I haven't seen them...The songs from the new album really came to life while the older material remains (perhaps predictably) as excellent as ever with each band member playing perfectly in isolation while combining to create a truly magical and absorbing sound. Emma's Wurlitzer organ playing in particular seemed to add an even more magical dimension to everything; such a beautiful sound being lively, melancholy then bouncy at each turn. No wonder it suits the songs so well. Darren Hayman himself was also on top educational form between songs, imparting knowledge on topics as diverse as the background to the witch trials and the relative merits of braces being worn on stage! A spectacular ending to another night.
I have very kindly been passed a link to a whole load of videos taken throughout the Sprinter. Here are a couple of them, have a look around as there are a lot more once you are in youtube!
Nine bands down and one more night to go now...assuming anyone can stand to read a fourth installment (this review has ended up dramatically longer than I had envisioned!) it will be up just as fast as I can type it.