As Flowers head into town on the back of their Fortuna Pop album, Getintothis’ Rick Leach hands out the bouquets.
Leaf Cafe was possibly the most appropriate venue in Liverpool for Flowers to visit on their UK tour. With their album Everyone’s Dying to Meet You still hot off the presses and good things being said all round, the combination of Leaf and Flowers should have been enough to banish the late February blues away.
The first of two support acts, Britain, brought us back to winter with a bit of a bump, but in a good way. A two-piece band, a guitar and keyboard combination, Britain are pure Cocteau Twins-y stuff; so much so that at times during their set it was if we’d stepped through a wormhole and found ourselves transported back twenty-five years or so with the ghost of a young Elizabeth Fraser singing about butterfly icebergs on stage. It was all twinkling guitar work, soaring and echoing vocals (and a great voice at that) with synthesised drums that sounded as if they’d been dragged from the very depths of the earth.
However, that was always a fine template and sometimes, just because a format of music isn’t doing anything particularly different doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. After all, soul music has been around for a fair bit and it seems to work well in an unchanged way. Britain have just signed to Heavenly and it’ll be interesting to see how, if at all, different they sound on record. (By the way, their name is virtually un-Googleable. Maybe they should do something to address that.)
The main support to Flowers were Pure Joy, all the way from Wallasey, playing their first ever gig. (By coincidence, their debut album, Bang Flower, is out on April 1.) A group of mates and veterans of previous Merseyside bands, Pure Joy is a concept that they’ve been working on for a while. There appeared to be no first-night nerves; they were self-assured and confident from the start.
Tight and almost Talking Heads-like tunes gave way to cool and thoughtful psych-pop. As their set wore on, you could tell that more and more of the audience were becoming involved in what was happening. Interest was piqued and they left us wanting to hear more. A bit like MGMT before they turned too rambling and messy, it would be too easy to (wrongly) pigeon-hole Pure Joy into some sort of Tame Impala bracket. They have, even at this early stage, more depth to them than that and appear too savvy to simply copy what is successful at this moment and therefore simply transitory.
Despite any reservations we made have had about Britain (the band, that is, not the country), Flowers are another group that are clearly heavily indebted to a previous scene. In their case, they wear the C86/shoegaze/dreampop banners so obviously on their sleeves that they might as well have it emblazoned on t-shirts. And whilst the Cocteau Twins were at least doing something interesting, the whole jangle-pop (aren’t all of these brackets awful?) thing was pretty lame and bankrupt from the get-go.
It must be difficult to try to take something twenty years old and to try and make a fresh go of it. A bit similar to restoring a Mini Metro. Why bother?
Having said that, Flowers made a pretty fair fist of it all. There were echoes of lo-fi, the songs were sung sweetly and there was plenty of fuzzy guitar beneath it all. Every box was therefore well and truly ticked It was all quite pleasant and polite and yet, in a strange sort of reversal of when Pure Joy played, the longer Flowers set went on the more the audience lost interest and drifted away. Sometimes you need a little grit to liven things up.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Chris Flack