Words & pics by Ed King
I like The Glee Club. I like the programming, I like the crowds. I like the way the chairs get laid out in neat semi circles. But what I don’t like is the queuing; outside, on a Sunday, in February, in the cold.
“We’re going to be playing Perfect Darkness, but some old ones too”, says the flat cap, obscured by a rib cage of angle poise lamps. Fink (aka Fin Greenall) was on stage, apparently before the lighting technician, as were Guy Whittaker and Tim Thornton – the back line he’s been playing and recording with since 2006.
“But we’re going to start with an old one,” a slow tempo rim tap and low vocals creep across the stage, “Biscuits for Breakfast”. The crowd whoops at the title track from Fink’s first acoustic album.
A medley into ‘Perfect Darkness’, the title track from Fink’s latest acoustic album, and the stage feels professionally comfortable.
A quick dedication to the support act, Charlene Soraia, and the tough electric strings of ‘Fear is Like Fire’ build up to its mini Wall of Sound crescendo. Outside applause, this was the loudest 5 minutes of the night.
The 20+ angle poise lamps – a simply effective backdrop, kick into a strobe, and then back to black. A brief breath, then a slow guitar pluck takes us into ‘Yesterday Was Hard On All Of Us’ – a low, soulful lament from ‘Perfect Darkness’, that sounds like it’s been sung by John Legend’s brother from another mother.
A brief “trip to the old skool” welcomes in ‘Blueberry Pancakes’ (from 2007 album ‘Distance and Time’) reminding us of Fink’s ambient techno roots; build up, crescendo, break… build up, break – before the laid back rim tap and strings of ‘Trouble’s What Your In’ bring us into the present.
An under the counter admission about “the city we’ve seen the most sunrises in” introduces ‘Berlin Sunrise’ – a quietly frenetic homage to the German capital, before the comparatively feisty ‘Warm Shadow’ subsides into the loudly layered ‘Honesty’, one of the most impressive performances of the night. Then the appropriated blues of ‘Wheels’ closes four consecutive new tracks to the back catalogue hungry audience.
But with a veteran’s balance, Fink ends on two of his most recognised releases; ‘This is the Thing’ and ‘Sort of Revolution’, before a standing ovation encore of ‘Pretty Little Thing’, a track he “can’t leave without playing”.
Fink is excellent. Each album released; since his move into acoustic six years ago, has been elegantly undercooked. But ‘Perfect Darkness’, Fink’s 2011 studio album, emitted a soft, stench of over production; one I sometimes found too thick to let me in.
But onstage Fink shines (literally when all of the angle poise lamps are on). The confident synergy between Greenall, Whittaker and Thornton produces something simple, beautiful and believable, and songs I’d shied away from before held more intrigue heard live.
The Glee Club is the right kind of venue, and the full Sunday house (not easy in Birmingham) showed a lot of love. And whilst I still feel Greenall’s best work is yet to come (and dear God when it does…), I’m committed to as many winter queues as it takes. And I’ll even complain quietly. Or perhaps just into my scarf.
For more info on Fink visit http://www.finkworld.co.uk/
For more info on The Glee Club, including comedy and music listings for all their UK venues, visit http://www.glee.co.uk/