Hailing originally from East Anglia (“the sticky out bit of Britain… that isn’t Wales”, as it was helpfully described), Jake Morrell and his Magnificent Band’s musical exploits hit the Fringe’s final week. For all the bombast of their moniker, said “Magnificent Band” were a three piece of perennially smiling keyboardist, bassist and drummer. They are fronted by Jake Morrell, their cheerful and very young looking singer and guitarist, and whilst their set had some moments of vigour, it was the lack of bombast that one was largely left with after hearing just over half an hour of their music.
This was their opening night, but it carried a roughness that was both charming and a little amateurish. The gig started almost fifteen minutes late, the band perhaps underestimating the time it took to drag a drum kit on stage and sound-check, and Morrell bringing up the band’s efforts to hawk CDs and tee shirts after the show with “My mum will kill me if I don’t tell you” was made all the more sweet by said mother vocally agreeing from the back of SpaceCabaret.
They opened with a jaunty “Sparrow”, which shimmered along without real incident save occasional belts from Morrell that filled the room. The venue itself is oddly laid out for live music given it’s width and lack of space on stage, but the band worked well from it, projecting outward despite their enforced stationary nature. The sound quality is strong given the aforementioned rushed sound-check: perhaps the percussion is a little loud, but the drummer is competent enough that this discrepancy is not insufferable. Sonically, their sprightly strain of indie-pop could be fairly described as ‘middle of the road’, though this is bucked occasionally by Morrrell’s rich voice. Whilst the instrumentation rarely ventures from formulaic, Morrell himself sings at times with a real delicacy, such as the close of the soft and slow tempo “Life is Wonderful”. Mid-set highlight “Catch Me” is also excellent, though rather oversold with the ambitious description that it would “soon be heard on Radio 1”.
Morrell’s himself is a refreshingly unassuming frontman with an affable demeanour. He shared a few jokes with his band, particularly a cheerful “Lewis the Drummer”. Said drummer’s stick-twizzling antics throughout were an amusing addition, but he also who pulled out a sharp drum solo in their closer which, due to the tight ship run by Fringe venues coupled with the band’s late start time, arrived rather sooner than expected. “Leave them wishing more” is an adage many touring musicians swear by, but at least for now, one wonders how much more this competent but rudimentary band have to give.