Mike Scott – Camden Barfly

By paul

Ben Childs & Mike Scott
Sunday 27 June 2010
The Purple Turtle, Camden
Support: Lost On Campus + Bygone

Nursing rather a sore head from last night?s leg of this tour, Punktastic has made its way to a very muggy Camden town. Roughly three hours ago England was unceremoniously dumped out of the World Cup. A blinding sun has brought a registered 28 degrees outside. Every other house you walk past is seemingly burning the BBQ charcoals. There?re plenty of reasons not to venture into the stifling heat, gloomed murkiness, and draught beer-free atmosphere of The Purple Turtle this evening but for the few that have slinked in, tonight?s show proves an enjoyment, beginning to end.

BYGONE is a two piece from just outside London that seems to have been ensnared into the whole Frank Turner acoustic scene. The band?s CD even has a mock-up of Turner?s FTHC logo. On stage the duo is appealing enough, standing out as much for a settled between song banter as for its SEAC (that?s South East Acousticore, if you?re keeping check). It?s not all that remarkable but it?s decent enough to bring the tapping of toes and a smile to the face.

LOST ON CAMPUS follows with a sound that also harks back to Turner?s first EP, although there?s more than a smidgen of early Get Cape parading about here. With the dastardly hot weather it?s not all that surprising to discover that Rob Lynch, the man behind the moniker, has vomited moments before coming on stage, a fact that explains an uncomfortable and sluggish outing. Still, there?s plenty to be impressed by, and the prospect of the backing laptop (notably missing here) to beef the sound out a little, it?s hard to argue Lost On Campus is onto a winner.

For tonight?s close of tour show, the two exes, BEN CHILDS (ex-Sonic Boom Six) and MIKE SCOTT (ex-Phinius Gage), have decided to pool resources and perform a split set. Childs will play two songs followed by two from Scott, before Childs is up again, and so on. It?s rather an intriguing concept (Lost on Campus marvels at what it might be like if AC/DC and M”tley Cre did likewise) and one that could profusely backfire. That?s not the case though, in part thanks to the almost omnipresence of violinist Luke Yates. So tonight it?s The Ben and Mike Trio, sometimes featuring three performers, sometimes two, sometimes one. There?s even an instance where neither Ben nor Mike is in the trio. Confused much?

Childs starts the tag-team set with joyfulness aplomb, merging Babyboom tracks with newer numbers that are clearly branded with a heavy folk iron. Acoustic ska this is not. A good old hoedown is as likely as a quick skank tonight. Throughout his performance a grin adorns his face, and that of the people surrounding him, and a feel good vibe reverberates.

Scott on the other hand trades on his patented pessimistic beguile, serenading the intimate crowd with tales of lost bands, lost wives and a lost soul in Luton, all the time seemingly winding his gangly body into knots. His outlook may be the polar opposite to Childs but the contrast tonight works really well and the crowd is noticeably impressed, and ultimately won over with a cover of Neil Diamond?s ?Solitary Man? (yes, Diamond did it before Johnny Cash, Chris Isaak, HIM, etc).

Together they might be the odd couple but tonight?s set proves to be something a little different and a little special. Whilst the uniform solo sets on this tour have been enjoyable, this double-up intrigues and impresses more. Scott retires early allowing Childs the final glory (as well as the opportunity to bring his friends up to perform). There?s high emotion for a cover of The Gaslight Anthem?s ?The ?59 Sound? which is described as a bit ?obvious? but works well into Childs? new sound, and by the time the night is out it?s impossible not to have enjoyed yourself. Who cares about football, sunshine and BBQs? Stuffy venues are still the best places to spend a summery Sunday evening.

Alex Hambleton