LIVE: Beach Slang / Petal @ Barfly, London

By Ben Tipple

There are a handful of rumours bouncing around London’s Barfly as doors open. Beach Slang will play until they no longer want to or until the curfew makes their decision for them, says one. The second recounts how Beach Slang have previously played the same track four times in one show. By all accounts, tonight is not going to be by-the-book.

This, as it turns out, is a spot on assumption. Masters of showmanship, Beach Slang offer a veritable variety show, with each skit near perfection. A beautifully shambolic and ultimately abandoned performance of ‘Too Late To Die Young’ sees drummer JP Flexner swap duties with Ed McNulty on bass, with truly hilarious consequences. Playful banter between the tracks provides some quality ribbing, showcasing the genuine camaraderie Beach Slang have achieved.

A guest appearance by Ben Harding of Senseless Things for a cover of the band’s 1989 track ‘Too Much Kissing’ proves a wall-shaking highlight, not least the smile stretched across Alex’s face as he proclaims with disbelief and awe, “This is my life!”. Top level musicianship is on display throughout, building upon opener Petal’s stunning voice that rightfully reduces the busy Barfly crowd to absolute silence. Beach Slang, although far from gentle, encourage an equal and unequivocal respect from devoted onlookers.

The latter half of the extensive unplanned encore – the source for earlier rumours – allows all hell to break loose, spurred by Beach Slang’s cover of Jawbreaker’s ‘Boxcar’. The likes of set closer ‘Ride The Wild Haze’ sit comfortably against the whiskey soaked lo-fi leanings of ‘Dirty Cigarettes’, all of which portray the band as rulers of their art. Everything about it reeks with ingenuity and passion, with every moment savoured by audience and band alike.

Witty, genuine and effortlessly cool, Beach Slang are far from having the crowd in the palm of their hands. Instead it’s evident from the onset that for tonight, we’re all in it together.