Live. ‘Twas The Night Before Wembley

On Thursday 12th April 2012 Xtra Mile took over the London Barfly for a celebration of both their incredible roster and that Frank Turner was playing a sold out show at Wembley Arena the following day.

Master of ceremonies for the evening was Jamie Lenman, of Reuben fame, who did a sterling job of introducing the acts, as well as making fun of the acts and generally keeping the energy in the room up while the band change-overs happened.

The first act up was the superb Ben Marwood whose album ‘Outside There’s a Curse’ is excellent and well worth a listen. His set was made up as he went along, but this only added to the awkward endearing charm that Ben emitted from the Barfly’s stage. Set highlights included the brilliant ‘Tell Avril Lavigne I Never Wanted To Be Her Stupid Boyfriend Anyway’ with an outro of Sk8 Boi thrown in for good measure and ‘Singalong’ which united the die hards and the people unaware of Mr. Marwood in a glorious, as the name suggests, Singalong. Ben Marwood’s gruff voice, coupled with the raw energy and slight unease that he portrayed created a mesmerising set and I eagerly await the next album, due out in the Autumn, and tour.

Next up was Dave Hause of ‘The Loved Ones’ fame. In comparison to Ben Marwood’s rather laid back approach to this set, Dave came on and delivered a balls out rock set, with demands for the crowd to clap and sing with him which they gladly did. I hadn’t heard of Dave Hause or The Loved Ones before but have really got into them since. The high point of the set was definitely the fabulous ‘C’mon Kid’ Fans of Bruce Springsteen or The Gaslight Anthem should really think about checking Dave Hause or his band The Loved Ones out. He’s supporting Alkaline Trio on their upcoming UK tour.

After listening to ‘Death’, the awe-inspiring new album from Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun, their set was one that I was most looking forward to, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. With little crowd interaction, compared to the two previous acts, the band let their music do most of the talking. Their blend of folk with post-hardcore sounds brilliant on record but live they manage to add another dimension to it and I was blown away. The whole set was superb, from the crowd singalong to ‘Warriors’, the beautiful ‘A Song About Death’ and them leaving the stage, standing in the middle of the audience and playing a stripped back ‘Boat Song’. I for one will definitely try to catch them on their upcoming UK tour and failing that, there’s always 2000 Trees.

Next up were the ‘Xtra Special Guest’ who was the legendary Billy Bragg. Now, the surprise had been somewhat ruined after Dave Hause had mentioned how pleased he was to be playing the same stage as Billy Bragg and also because I bumped into him earlier that night. Billy arrived to rapturous applause and from the word go, he held the room on every word he said, every note he played and every note he sang. The room felt like it was crackling with excitement as everyone was aware at how special the next forty-five minutes were. Billy Bragg was in good spirits as he talked freely in between songs and engaged in quite a lot of banter with the crowd, proving that after twenty plus years he still knows exactly how to work a room. After an energetic finale of ‘New England’ Billy Bragg left the stage, only to reappear moments later with Frank Turner to duet on Bob Dylan’s ‘Times They Are A-Changin’. It was fucking awesome.

It takes a special band to come on after a set like that, but Crazy Arm not only matched the Billy Bragg set but several times were in real danger of outperforming him with their high-octane folk rock. The energy in the room that had been building over the course of the night exploded as Crazy Arm threatened to tear the roof off of the Barfly and the band rode the energy with great success. Crazy Arm finished the evening off perfectly.

Xtra Mile really showed the depth and diversity that they have on their label, and the quality of the artists really shone through. The whole night felt like a celebration, a celebration of the acts that Xtra Mile has worked with but also a celebration of how good a label Xtra Mile is. The term ‘best indie label’ was mentioned a fair few time and at the Barfly they had proved they’d earnt that label.

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~ by justdip on 20/04/2012.

One Response to “Live. ‘Twas The Night Before Wembley”

  1. […] to Jim Lockey And The Solemn Sun when they played London’s Barfly as part of Xtra Mile’s ‘Night Before Wembley‘ showcase on April 12th 2012. Their stunning album, Death, was also released that week and […]

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