Writer Richard Bari / Photographer Miren Harris
Kaleidoscope locked, loaded, and hit the mark once again. The local promoters behind the monthly free event curated another wild night with a packed house, and a line-up worth their salt and much more.
The show kicks off with Sawel Underground. The sextet lays down a mix of numbers, all rooted in a variety of staple 60s sounds – ranging from Diddleyesque blues to drowsy psychedelia. Each member looks the part too, with half the band appearing as if they were pulled out of a trippy poster, and the other straight out of The Factory.
Next comes Sugarthief, bringing the arsenal of new material they’ve been cooking up. Having undergone a metamorphosis their sound has evolved at full tilt, but they still seamlessly blend their new songs with the old.
With recent influence from the likes of Scott-Heron, and certain exiles of Brazil, their songs come with a certain seriousness. Yet, their delivery conveys self-awareness, eliminating any chance of appearing out of touch.
Finally, long after sunset, the man of the hour, Myles Newman, graces the stage. Backed by an eclectic mix of local musicians, the supergroup around him helps bring his musical vision to a full-scale, live setting.
Myles has established himself through his method of recording everything himself, using analogue tape machines and equipment – a mode of operation which resulted in a signature lo-fi sound that can be heard on his nostalgia-inducing ‘Miss World’ and ‘Little Message’ singles.
This gig, however, is an opportunity to showcase cuts from his upcoming EP simply titled You and Me – which pushes the evolution of his sound tenfold. Despite dropping on 22 May, I was lucky to wrap my ears around the release a little earlier.
The only logical conclusion I could draw is that Myles is a chameleon of sound…
If ‘Miss World’ was a sweet bop with indie sentiments, songs like ‘Sophie’ and ‘You Know’ are the result of an intense period of absorbing as much Americana as possible, repackaging it and serving it up with wonderful authenticity.
The development is astounding; ‘Sophie’ could easily fall in with hitters from The Gilded Palace of Sin. With pedal steel licks, country style harmonies and lovely chorus breakdowns, Myles manages to revive cosmic, hippie country but here in the West Midlands.
Despite maintaining the same simplistic recording approach, the musical complexities and convictions are a testament to his abilities and observant ear.
But, how was this sound going to translate when a full band with three guitars and a rhythm section got to work with the songs?
Well, what ensues is a blend of soft rock soundscapes, wholesome antics, and a sleazy cover to wrap it all up.
The tunes are certainly delivered with a heavier hand, focusing more on groove which gives each number yet another dimension. The sound in The Night Owl is great, but hidden piano runs won’t stand out as they do on the record – aware of this, the band focus more on rhythm, reeling and rocking.
Ed Quigley sways and bops while backing on guitar. Myles and his right-hand man, El Cid, share a microphone and take turns to solo. Members of the audience are drawn right in, their heads swaying in unison and nods are exchanged confirming approval.
The aforementioned singles and earlier releases like ‘Can’t Sleep Alone’ make the set too, receiving a warm welcome, solidifying that Myles has had something going on for a long time now. The audience hasn’t had their fill by the time the band announces the end of the set, they demand one more.
“You want one more? Alright.” Laying straight into Clapton’s ‘Cocaine’, they wrap the evening up with a bang.
One thing is loud and clear – Newman works in eras, and we are all ready to see where he takes us next.
To listen to Sawel Underground go to: www.open.spotify.com/artist/2swi0z5T7zaMptFj4ptZqf
To take a look at what Sugarthief are up to go to their website: www.sugarthief.co.uk
To listen to Myles Newman go to: www.open.spotify.com/artist/08MG8TyCUmstyoCAy12OG7
You can also follow Kaleidoscope on Instagram to see their upcoming shows www.instagram.com/bhamkaleidoscope