Friday night saw TV ME cast their psychedelic dreamcoat over a sell-out crowd at 81 Renshaw Street and Getintothis’ Mike Stanton was there to sweep up the stardust.
With so many music venues closing around the city it is heartening to see one go from strength-to-strength. 81 Renshaw Street has emerged as one of the most exciting live venues in the city having redeveloped and expanded the performance space and adding a record shop downstairs.
It is in this performance space that TV ME chose to launch their EP A Broadcast From TV ME and conclude their successful nationwide tour, so a party atmosphere was guaranteed with a fully supportive audience eager to see and hear one of Liverpool’s most exciting bands.
Up first was singer-songwriter Sean Keogh and what a talent. Head of vocals and keyboards for Liverpool chamber-pop combo A Lovely War, Sean was performing in a solo capacity and proved to be a fine opening act. A combination of excellent songwriting and great voice elevated Sean‘s set to almost one of headliner with a selection of wonderfully crafted songs that hearkened back to the 1970’s ‘golden age’ of the songsmith. Comparisons to Joe Jackson will abound with Sean‘s songs containing the same bittersweet melodies and intricate structures eliciting warm applause from the growing audience.
He could have looked lost and alone up on stage with just a backing track for company but his performance was compelling, his voice arresting and the set beautifully balanced. Sean Keogh is another example of the incredible talent still bubbling around the city and is an act to catch live if you can.
Up next were Seatbelts, not the Japanese space-jazz outfit, but a new project from James Madden and Ryan Murphy of Hooton Tennis Club. With the pedigree they have it was no surprise to see the quality on show as the four-piece blasted through a set of some fine indie-pop and socially-aware songs that got the now near-full room rocking. James and Ryan are superb songwriters and managed to combine slick performance with on-note social comment to tell stories and encourage some proper dancing from the crowd.
Evoking the jerky, post-punk stylings of XTC they were assured and tight on stage, riffing off each other and clearly enjoying themselves. This made them a compelling watch, James Madden is a superb frontman who occupies the stage with boatloads of charm, swagger and confidence ably backed-up by the rest of the band who create an assured ensemble. Chatting in between songs with the audience, James ensured the set flew by and left everyone roaring their approval.
Finally TV ME took to the stage and showed just why they are one of the most exciting live acts around at the moment. Consisting of Thomas McConnell, Frankie Tibbles and the magnificently mustachioed Adam Dixon they unleashed their sweet form of psychedelic folk-pop onto a packed room at Renshaw Street.
Kicking off with Stitches from their new EP A Broadcast From TV ME, the sounds swirled around the listening ears with Beach Boys-like melodies. Their use of atmospheric interstitial samples throughout the set really lent an air of a concept performance, moving the set beyond a collection of songs and into an overall experience, like a journey they have asked you to accompany them on.
Peppercorn Boy followed and is such a stand-out song that it never dulls, just from the opening synths it was obvious the absolute quality on display.
After a brief chat from Thomas and the sampled voice informing us that ‘TV ME is filmed in front of a live studio audience’, they kicked on with a brilliant rendition of Magdapio Falls with some lovely close-harmony singing. Balloons followed and is a mellow, downtempo tune that featured some fine theremin action and had the air of 10cc at their mid-70’s peak.
Space Geno, their second single, a brilliant slice of quaint English psych-pop gets the room jumping. It’s a song impossible to stand still to and the band appear to be having huge amounts of fun playing it. Frankie on keys lends the the band a nostalgic and otherworldly feel with sounds cut straight from the Belbury Poly school of hauntology.
Opal Fruits from the new EP is a set highlight; a charging, spacey and trippy swirler that features some ace vocoder action lending a gorgeous, melodic and textured vibe to the track and it’s one helluva way to close out a sparkling set. It’s safe to say by this point the place is bouncing and how could anybody resist. TV ME don’t so much as invite you on their kaleidoscopic journey but grab you by the hand, haul you along, laughing, glowing and spiraling a fine mist of neon-glitter. It’s an intoxicating and heady mix of sound and vision that leaves you grinning and light-headed.
With that the deal is struck and we have all bought into this spellbinding performance. The audience cheers, the sampled voice informs us we have watched a broadcast from TV ME and the static charge in the room slowly descends. If you have the chance to see these guys live, do it, your ears, mind and heart will thank you for the uplift, the head-swim and the neon glow.
Images by Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody