Roddy Hart and his band, the Lonesome Fire, appear on the stage dressed as dapper as anything. It’s a look which suits a sound as clean-cut and noir as theirs. This is a band owing a debt to the gothic tradition, tapping as they do into a certain melodrama, an unnerving atmosphere and a deep romanticism.
There are seven of them in total. They nudge each other, swig beers and enjoy the opportunity to play a set that they wouldn’t normally play acoustically. As I tried to pick through the layers of the sound, it’s hard to say that the band felt any more layered than a four or five piece. In any case, they’re a cohesive unit. Irrespective of whether or not that one extra guitar, that one extra keyboard improved the sound, it at least never felt like an overflow in which they might trip over one another.
The arrangements demonstrate an intelligent construction inherent to their pieces, which ranged from their most popular to the relatively unknown. They played a combination of music from their new record and from Hart’s solo records. After all, it is his name that draws an audience in. As if to acknowledge this, the band shuffle to the sides for a moment or two to allow him to take centre stage on the keys.
Hart’s voice is strong and somewhat incongruous with the deep slur of the music and together they create a very enjoyable listening experience. It is undoubtedly intriguing the way the show is assembled, yet it cannot but get tired. When Hart tells us that their new record has been produced by the same man who did Coldplay’s X&Y, it was all I could do to stop myself from rolling my eyes. As Hart admits to liking Coldplay, it occurred to me that they were shooting for the mass market with this music. Keeping it as innocuous as possible is probably part of the plan.
The set was very pleasant and I’m sure they’ll do very well, but I came closer to sleep than I did to the heart palpitations I feel at the best gigs.