Review by John Noblet
Every so often, a ruck of bands will cross my path in my adventures across the city that will seem to constitute some new emerging scene or movement – usually this feeling dissipates within a few weeks but it’s always nice when it happens.
Over the last month or so, the genre has been Folk (and no, I’m not going to talk about the Moseley Folk Festival). Most recently, there was Abie’s Miracle Tonic and Mellow Peaches who I reviewed the other week. Then I happened to stumble across the brilliant Balsall Heathens; playing in the bandstand in Cannon Hill Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon, to an enthralled assortment of punks, children and cannabis activists.
It’s been almost two years to the day since I first heard them sing, in the now defunct Whitmarley squat in Stirchley. They didn’t have a name then, and only settled on The Mistakings after a brief sojourn as The Nighties of the Round Table.
For the start of tonight’s set they’re joined by Che Cartwright, and the third song in is one of his. He’s a lucky sod, because he’s got the kind of backing vocals rich Rock stars pay a lot of money for to beautify lifeless come back albums. It’s a simple song, arranged to perfection with four part vocal harmonies and dual violins. There’s a few seconds of silence when the song ends, but when the applause comes, it’s loud.
The rest of the set is made up of a mixture of self penned material and traditionals, or other stuff “punctuated by sea shanties” (I was trying to get through the review without using the phrase ‘sea shanties’ as I didn’t want you to think of them as some novelty band that dress up as pirates, but there you go).
But it’s the original material that stands out the most; such as Katherine Griffiths’ ‘I’m The Girl’, a song I am ashamed to say I’d always assumed was from the back catalogue of some famous band (sorry, Katherine). And Ellie Chambers’ ‘The Sea Captain’ is as bold a statement of intent as I’ve heard from any singer in a long time; the kind of song you can imagine being sung for many years to come.
Part of the charm of The Mistakings is how they don’t tailor every last detail of their set to impress people; they’re far too clever to play the pointless of game of constantly trying to look uber cool in front of your audience.
For instance, they’re the kind of band that can name an instrumental ‘Fuck the Olympics’ for no overt reason, or give over a massive chunk of their set to sea shanties and not shed a slither of credibility (I mean, sea shanties for fuck’s sake!). And the odd bit of daftness is a welcome contrast to the constant stream of “did that just happen?” moments, set by the ridiculously high standards of their vocal performance.
Hopefully The Mistakings‘ debut album will be recorded and released in the next six months or so – but I know their gigs will be thin on the ground for a while, as they all go back to university this week.
But whenever it is that you next see ‘The Mistakings’ on a flyer, make sure you go. You’ll be missing out otherwise.
For more on The Mistakings, visit http://themistakings.tumblr.com/
For further gig listings at The Bull’s Head, visit http://bullsheadmoseley.co.uk/event-listings/