Album Launch: How’s my Pop + Ivan Campo + Homemade Lemonade

The Gregson Centre – 03/07/09

Written by Sid Schiff

How’s my Pop know how to throw a party. Celebrating the release of their album ‘On the Hop’ at the Gregson, upon entering the hall, the audience were greeted by what resembled a travelling Americana fete, the normal stage lovingly transformed into a colourful diorama of clouds, fields and sunshine. Such a rustic, colourful set-up was all rather apt for a band on a record label named Barnbox- of course tonight was all about the music, but if first impressions were anything to go by, we were in for something rather special.

I had seen opening act Homemade Lemonade at their own album launch the night before, however founding members Tristan Clutterbuck and Robin Williams, tonight took to the stage without the usual full band accompaniment. Where they would normally create tense swathes of acoustic atmospherics, before smashing it to bits with a jackhammer of drums, buzz-saw guitar and bass, tonight the stark fragility of their songs was magnified. Robin’s terse, lilting vocal delivery is interesting and original, and their harmonies seem to get better with every gig. Despite initial sound difficulties, they held the audience’s attention and played a brooding, beautiful set.

Shifting the pace up a notch was Preston 3-piece Ivan Campo. Having never seen them before, I was genuinely taken aback by their performance. Unlike their footballing namesake, their playing was sprightly and un-flabby, their unusual arrangements and three part harmonies were delivered effortlessly and with humour. Their songs were rootsy and familiar, yet quirky instrumentation (glockenspiel, Casio and whistling solos that would give Peter, Bjorn or even John a run for their money) gave the material a playful edge, without ever bordering on the twee. It made me think of Gomez when they were good, and Herman Dune, and even Lancaster’s much missed Wisemen, and by the time they had finished, I, like heaps of others in the room, were sold on their lovely whisky-soaked sound.

All this gave How’s my Pop a lot to live up to. Within the first couple of bars of opening song ‘Soil’ it was clear they weren’t in the mood to disappoint. Treating the audience to a set loaded with songs from their new LP, as well as older favourites such as ‘Grannies Car’, they had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. It’s so refreshing to see a band enjoying themselves, and HMP looked like they were having a ball. On this kind of form no one could begrudge them, feverish drumming, tight-as basslines, and belting waves of Hammond organ all came together in a warm, stomping, giddy noise. At recent gigs singer/guitarist Andrew Raven has seemed slightly awkward and uncomfortable before a crowd, but tonight he positively shone, his relaxed banter and unassuming charm was an open invitation for the audience to leave their inhibitions at the door. They happily accepted, as the room became alive with people singing, jigging and batting balloons onto the stage, only for him to pop them with a mischievous swipe of his guitar. Album highlight ‘Jack’ sounded even better than on record, and by the time they had finished playing ‘On the Hop’, with its simple folky motif, not only had they had kept a sweltering and packed room dancing for nearly an hour, put people were still cheering for more. A superb night.

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6 Responses

  1. i couldn’t agree more

  2. Have to say whilst I’m not the biggest fan of How’s my pop, it sounds like it was a great night nonetheless. I especially like what Homemade Lemonade do, very interesting. That’s twice I’ve missed them now! I’ll definately have to make more of an effort.

    Nice review Sid!

  3. wish I could have been there, as it was, over with Andy’s co-conspirator Mikey at The Fuel Cafe….we were both slightly amused by the fact HMP and EFTM were playing the same night and we could see neither, hey ho. Great review, nice one chaps

  4. ‘despite initial sound difficulties’…..that line follows Home Made Lemonade. Haha, love it, in fact, I think its deliberate. Good, hardworking band.

  5. Thanks very much for the review Sid. We enjoyed it and it seems so did everyone else. Im glad you enjoyed the look of the night. A lot of effort paid off. Cheers.
    Tom
    HMP

  6. I was in France for this, so missed it. I’m happy to say I’ve put all 3 of these on at OoR nights and they’re all great bands and good people too.

    Anyone other than Sid (thanks Sid) that misses the Wisemen might want to look here: http://www.myspace.com/thewisemenukband

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