Review: Tigercats, Basement, York

Timeless, wistful and sweet songs… Tigercats
14 Apr 2015 @ 8.31 pm
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Tigercats + Fever Dream + Tuff Love

The Basement, Coney Street, York

Sat Apr 11

Tigercats Facebook page

At the start of the week, for whatever reason, in my head the Amazons gig was going to be proper good and Tigercats would be more lightweight and throwaway.

In fact, the opposite turned out to be true.

First support Fever Dream, for me, were a bit meh.

They were shoegazey, My Bloody Valentine types, with gnawing basslines from the outstanding Sarah Lippett and frontman Adrian Fleet reminiscent of Kurt Cobain, if only in his dress sense and stage movements.

He drew some extraordinary sounds from his guitar, a tangle of cables and wires from which he wrenched a unique wail that cut underneath every track they played.

The dreamy vocals were almost inaudible, sadly, but I’m unsure if this was intentional or due to some sound problems – there was definitely at least one dodgy mic at the Basement on Saturday.

Their set highlight for me was the first song of their double-A side with Tigercats due to be released in August, which Laura Kovic from the headliners joined them for. A tune of dreamy harmonies with an insistent, reverberating backing, it truly demonstrated that the three-piece are a damn tight unit when they want to be.

As it happens, though, at the moment they struck me as just being a decent band you might unintentionally stumble across on Soundcloud – entertaining for a while, but not hugely out of the ordinary.

Tuff Love played next, and not for a long time have I felt such genuine affection for a live band in York.

Their songs sounded beautifully innocent, vibrant and brimming with youthful energy, reminding me of Automatic For The People-era REM’s backing with calm, blending harmonies like those of indie-poppers Alvvays (see Adult Diversion for the best example of this).

Extraordinary sounds… Fever Dream
Extraordinary sounds… Fever Dream
Beautifully innocent – Tuff Love. Photograph: Izzy Chaplin
Beautifully innocent – Tuff Love. Photograph: Izzy Chaplin

The adorable Scottish duo (plus drummer) were clearly having an absolute ball, cracking silly jokes for each other and forgetting which songs to play, and this really translated to the audience – simple but excellent pop songwriting and instantaneously likeable personas lead to a genuine smile on the face of every member of the relaxed, appreciative Basement crowd.

Finally, on came Tigercats, led by devoted songwriter Duncan Barrett.

They’re not his first band, they may very well not be his last, but I can’t imagine their singer and guitarist will be in any better.

The five-piece make a cracking sound, layer after layer of dextrous tunes, which works well with the lengthy and personal songwriting, notably with the timelessly wistful Sleeping In The Backseat which sounds like it belongs in the soundtrack to a cult teen film, and the empowering melancholy of Wendy And Lisa with it’s gripping opening line “we’ve been lying since the summer”.

They’ve just released their second full-length, and while for me they’re better live’n’loud, the craft of elegant songwriting is still very much alive on it – give it a go.

So Haunted was clearly a band favourite, Barrett’s bassist brother Giles really going for it as it built to an immense, grin-inducing wall of sound.

Full Moon Reggae Party is one of my favourite songs I’ve heard live this year, an incredibly addictive and candyfloss sweet hit of indie pop that is just an utterly, utterly fantastic track, while closer Wheezer brought both maracas and harmonies of studio tightness that left the crowd wanting much, much more.

In terms of chilled, cheering Saturday night gigs, this one would be pretty hard to top.