Sometimes circumstances conspire to flummox a band's gigging intentions: NeWt's trombonist's lip was injured and swollen, such that "I can't play some of the notes the tunes need!" However, while it was disappointing that this was not the gig NeWt had billed themselves as playing (a suite of tunes inspired by their sojourn to Unst, Shetland, with accompanying visuals) you have to take your hat off to the night's musicians for overcoming difficulty and performing some very interesting music. Indeed, literally so, in the case of drummer Chris Wallace: he took his cap off and used it to (partially) play his kit, on one tune - to interesting, soft-sounding effect.
All three players' eclecticism and empathy allows for the band's being hard to classify: this is somewhere between Jazz and ambient-Folk, refreshingly original and ear grabbing.
Talking of effects, it's worth mentioning that the band member whose circumstances had caused the programme's change plays what is very much electric trombone: a small contact mic is fed through effect pedals and into an amp, leading to Chris Greive's trombone functioning as a bass instrument, much of the time, allowing the trio's other member, guitarist Graeme Stephen, to weave his lines atop a fat, tuba-like cushion of bass. When Greive soloed (which was less often than might have been good, the lip's injury perhaps making him tentative about pushing his luck), he'd bypass the sub-octaver pedal and utilise a more "natural" tone. This didn't preclude his also incorporating further effects, such as detaching the mic and growling into it, while warping his voice with an autowah pedal.
He was also an engaging, drily witty, host, explaining the origins of some tunes and ending the night by encouraging our singing of Happy Birthday to Wallace, whose birthday it was. He also pointed out that the band's origins were local: the members first rehearsed beneath the original Forest Cafe - "Chris (Wallace) still has a cough, from the basement's walls' spores!"
Stephen, too, utilises effects interestingly, looping lines via a delay pedal and often distorting his tone to the point of feedback. This can be very evocative, such as when one tune is an homage to lunar landers. He's equally adept at spacey melodicism. All three players' eclecticism and empathy allows for the band's being hard to classify: this is somewhere between Jazz and ambient-Folk, refreshingly original and ear grabbing.
As the audience leaves, singing Happy Birthday to Wallace again, there is perhaps a mixed feeling: an edge of regret that this was not the themed, multi-media evening we'd come for, but an equal sense that we'd seen and heard a band functioning organically and playing something unique to the night's circumstances. A fine gig, then, but I'd have been interested to have heard - and seen - what was the intended event.