Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Bedsit Poets, Don Piper and the Oxygen Ponies at Luna Lounge, Brooklyn NY 6/3/07

The show probably would have sold out if not for the elements: torrential rain, umbrellas blown inside out, everyone in the house soaked to the bone. The marvelous Bedsit Poets opened. Their sound is totally late 60s/early 70s, windswept pastoral beauty in places, otherwise super catchy harmony-driven Britpop, the Kinks circa Arthur hanging out with the Fairport Convention crowd. Frontman Ed Rogers and rhythm guitarist/singer Amanda Thorpe blend voices beautifully. Both British expats, he has a classic pop delivery which pairs well with Thorpe’s soaring, passionate Britfolk style.

Thorpe was celebrating her birthday, and she held the audience in the palm of her hand, particularly on the sweeping, anthemic Reach for the Sky, from their well-received album The Summer That Changed (as in “changed our lives”). On the quiet, ethereal Chemical Day, Thorpe played a small keyboard that for a minute sounded as if it was producing some quiet, strategically placed layers of feedback. They closed their rousing 50-minute set with the title track from the album, a supremely catchy pop tune punctuated by lead guitarist Mac Randall’s swinging country licks. Rogers and Thorpe sang a round with each other at the end of the song: he launched into Mungo Jerry and she countered with Gershwin, the result being a typical Bedsit moment. They’re a very playful band. The audience wanted an encore but didn’t get one.

Singer/guitarist Don Piper and his band – including many of the people who would play later in the evening – followed with a painless set of slow-to-midtempo jangle and clang. At one point, guest guitarist Drew Glackin (who also plays with the Jack Grace Band and the Silos) took a slowly growling climb up the scale, turned around and came back down the way he went up. Against the steady wash of the two guitars behind him, it was almost as if it was 1984 and True West was onstage. But they never hit that peak again: Piper seems to be more interested in mood and atmosphere than saying anything specific. He doesn’t have the voice for rock – it’s a keening, high tenor – but to his credit he tackled a Curtis Mayfield number and absolutely nailed it. He has a real future as a soul singer if he wants it.

The Oxygen Ponies are basically songwriter Paul Megna and whoever he can rustle up for a show. Tonight he brought a whole herd, 11 musicians including a trio of backup singers, two guitarists in addition to Megna himself, lapsteel, rhythm section and two horn players. Megna comes from the gutter-poet school of songwriting, all bedraggled, depressed and chain-smoking. His melodies are contagiously catchy (think a less skeletal Leonard Cohen, or a more pop-oriented Nick Cave) and he can write a hell of a lyric, with a sometimes savagely cynical edge. And the band pushed him to project and sing, keeping his vocals at a safe distance from the dreaded cesspool of grunge. The band’s ability to hit a crescendo out of nowhere was literally breathtaking, especially on the final track from their new cd, The Quickest Way to Happiness.

What was perhaps most striking about their performance was that everyone onstage was clearly having a great time, and this carried over to the audience. What could have been dirges became anthems. The lead guitarist didn’t play much, but when he did, his slashing pyrotechnics never failed to ignite. The horns played in perfect unison with each other and the backup singers delivered joyous, heartfelt harmonies. Megna’s songs tend to go on for at least five minutes, sometimes much more, but they never dragged. And the sound system was crystal clear all night long. What fun.

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June 9, 2007 - Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. you, sir are too kind. thanks for the positive vibes!

    Comment by pm | June 11, 2007 | Reply

  2. Much fun, great show. The Curtis Mayfield number was excellent, and my highlight of the evening.
    She’s A Mystery was pretty cool as well with Amanda playing the Casio keyboard. A great evening to get wet for.

    Comment by at | June 11, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] Thurs Nov 29 the Bedsit Poets bring their sweeping, pastoral Britfolk anthems, their catchy 3-minute 60s Britpop hits […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Events Calendar 11/8-12/3/07 « Lucid Culture | November 9, 2007 | Reply

  4. […] Nov 29 British-American rockers the Bedsit Poets play the Bowery Poetry Club 8:45 PM sharp. Sweeping windswept pastoral anthems, catchy 3-minute 60s […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Music Calendar 11/14-12/3/07 « Lucid Culture | November 13, 2007 | Reply

  5. […] Poetry Club at 8 PM followed by another band with guy/girl vocals, marvelous British expats the Bedsit Poets with their catchy, 3-minute Carnaby St. 60s style pop hits, soaring Britfolk anthems and sweet […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Events Calendar 11/28-12/31/07 « Lucid Culture | December 1, 2007 | Reply

  6. […] Weds Jan 23 soaring retro British pop revivalists the Bedsit Poets, featuring Amanda Thorpe and her Linda Thompson-esque vocals, play Banjo Jim’s at 8:30 PM […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Music Calendar Jan/Feb 2008 « Lucid Culture | January 22, 2008 | Reply


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