Live music lives! No, it is not a Black Midi, New Road charity live stream that has restored my faith in the live event, nor is it a soulless acoustic set from atop a hotel in Manchester (not naming names). I find my interest in music revitalised by the most exciting thing to happen south of the M25 since the invention of being socially cold. No, I’m not talking about the gutless, OnlyFans funded, cocaine fuelled Brighton scene, that has been a self-eating snake for years now. I once again find myself on the Isle of Wight, finally able to see a Lazy Chain, who after nearly a year out from playing gigs, returned to a sold-out show at Strings. Though I may not have loved being seated for the show Lazy Chain made sure that was the only negative about the night for me.
Starting the show off on his own on stage, warning of the potential pretentiousness of reading out a poem before he started to play, Harry Sprinks performed with the consistency and comfortability of a well-established frontman. This was also helped by the fact that everyone’s role in the band was as defined as it has ever been. Things can get tricky when vocals are shared but with bass player Dan only taking the lead for one song it helped present them as more of a unit than ever. After a short poetry reading Harry went straight into their debut single Opium Sky, still alone, onstage with just an acoustic guitar, but almost in microcosmic Stop Making Sense style, the rest of the band appeared and began to play a changed version of the song, in fact all of the songs experienced a re-write to fit the seated, more laid back situation. They still kept an intensity throughout the set, mainly through Harry’s Isaac Wood-esque style of a man in control but who also seems to be constantly flirting with the idea of a breakdown. Following on from Opium Sky was their unreleased single Ambrosia Delight, which for my money is the best song in their repertoire right now. With a guitar riff that stays in your head for fucking weeks after you’ve heard it and melodies to match this was definitely a high point in what was already a consistently impressive performance. Lead guitar lines throughout, played by Jess, with a presence akin to Johnny Greenwood, Joff Oddie and all of Goat Girl simultaneously, were sublime, from the mix to the tone and contextualisation it served as a constant throughout the set whilst backing guitar changed from acoustic to electric and back again.
Isaac on drums also played with the semi-contained lunacy of Elliot Rawson mixed with the visible gleefulness and energy of Hammy from Over the Hedge. The audience can’t help but fall victim to both the pounding rhythms and bombardment of glee, it’s almost like a fucking Scientology-esque mind control technique, after such a long time without seeing live music it was all too easy to fall in love with what was happening on stage. A lot of the songs played were unreleased songs I had not heard before, with a couple of covers sprinkled on top. Coconut by Harry Nielsen being the highlight of these. The slow burning repetitive 70’s jam providing an almost tailor-made song for the band to work within and work within they fucking did. Teasing time and again an explosion that never comes even though as a listener you know one isn’t, they still manage to get you every time. Something that the band repeat in a re-worked rendition of their sophomore single Put Down the Cabbage, Pick Up the Pitchfork. Slowly starting with an almost unrecognisable instrumental that loops for what seems like an age the phrase “I’m too scared” is repeatedly shouted by Harry as he sporadically doubles over, almost like he’s not singing the song but confessing he’s too scared too begin. Far removed from its original, snarling punk form, it never the less manages to stir in the listener a sense of anxiousness that Lazy Chain are, at this point, experts in doing. The bass at times in the set had a tendency to be lost being the backing guitar but when Harry put down his guitar for both Coconut and Cabbage it quickly returned back into consciousness, pushing the song along and being the main source of Lazy Chain’s glorious angst.
Like I said at the beginning I may not be a fan of sitting and watching bands, it just seems unnatural to me for the crowd at a gig to be sitting looking like judges on fucking X-Factor, but Lazy Chain at Strings was still a fantastic gig by a fan-fucking-tastic band. Maybe it’s the year I’ve had off from live music but I walked out of there with the same optimism that was instilled in me after seeing my first gig. Yes, the world is still fucked but now I know this, there are better times to come, for us and for Lazy Chain.