It’s pretty criminal that The Wave Pictures have been plugging away at this music lark for so long and haven’t gained more widespread attention. I suppose in an industry so often dominated by smoke screens over substance you can see how this little gem of a trio could get passed over.
If the world was the right way up however, most would appreciate the substance that these guys bring by the bucket load, and it’s delivered authentically, with humour and character. So it is tonight – at the sold out 100 club – that we get treated to the bloody brilliant joy of their stories, melodies and partiality to a checked shirt. There is not a bell or whistle in sight. No capes required (God love you, Madge).
Promoting the release of their 14th (14th!) studio album Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon, the Leicestershire natives kick off with this title track. The backing vocals raise my first smile; I wonder if they’ve drafted in Barry Gibb before I realise that the falsetto is coming from Jonny Helm behind the drum kit. Lovely stuff.
‘I Can Hear The Telephone’, or as lead singer David Tattersall charismatically puts it: “Our brand new smash hit single, Ladies and Gentlemen”, is charming and groovy, with Tattersall’s signature clever lyrics – “Cigar smoked shadow on a blood red wall, lipstick stains and the telephone crawls” – paired with equally clever musicality. Franic Rozycki especially is about to demonstrate throughout this set how to write a great bass line (and play it), without being intrusive on a song.
But coming back to lyrics, because I’m a lyrics kinda gal, and I am very very safe in the words of David Tattersall. From the obtuse to sublime, from heartbreak to arbitrary, he can make the mundane sound poignant and the poignant mind stalling. To his greater credit, these do not feel like poems that he’s somehow squeezed into the shape of songs. They are clearly written with the bigger picture in mind, at times relying just as heavily on the music to come alive.
So, tips. Look out for ‘Pea Green Coat’, take a moment with the arrestingly stripped ‘At Dusk You Took Down The Blinds’, and go back through the catalogue to find ‘Sweetheart’. Do not, by any means, miss out on Jonny in ‘Sleepy Eye’ singing: “You stroke my hair it’s like matted fur; perhaps I can squeeze some into her”. Live, it is gorgeous.
As far as the rest of this 70 minute set goes, it is water tight from start to finish, has a country cover thrown in for good measure, and everyone is well behaved (Dave tells us that someone had pelted a full pint at him on stage the night before whilst screaming ‘I love you!’).
I think that’s as hedonistic as it’s ever going to get to be honest, for I sense that The Wave Pictures are more tea and biscuits than cigarettes and alcohol (well, more than a sense if you watch the dead lovely video below). What I mean by that is they’re completely humble, thoroughly great musicians playing heart sailing songs without a trace of ego. And lucky you, they’re back in London at The Dome on the 25th June. Put the kettle on and grab a ticket.