wears the trousers magazine

6 day riot: live at the portland arms, cambridge 16/02
February 17, 2010, 5:08 pm
Filed under: live, review | Tags: , , ,

6 Day Riot + Flaming June
The Portland Arms, Cambridge ••••
February 16, 2010

Flaming June are named after Frederic Lord Leighton’s painting of a sleeping woman, which seems only too appropriate on this evening’s evidence. In stark contrast to their passionate frontwoman Louise Hamilton, the pipe player and backing vocalist to her left, who may be aiming for the whimsical air sometimes associated with this breed of folk music, looks rather bored. Hamilton’s red hair, red dress and red acoustic guitar make a bold statement centre-stage, but despite their musical competence the rest of the band’s lack of enthusiasm creates a nervous, amateurish atmosphere around their early ’90s-inspired acoustic-indie sound. The result only confirms they have yet to really develop from the Bury St Edmunds-based quartet who formed after Louise’s obvious ambition caused her to seek musicians to back her in a local songwriting competition some time last summer. Judging by tonight’s performance, perhaps she’d be better off if she hadn’t.

6 Day Riot, on the other hand, are extremely enthusiastic, so much so that double bassist, Edd appears positively orgasmic behind his large instrument, whooping with delight in all the right places as the rest of the band smile either politely or infectiously in equal measures of obvious enjoyment. Frontwoman and chief ukulele mistress Tamara Schlesinger skips and struts across the small stage, giving what is so often a cute and comedic instrument a surprisingly elegant quality. Bedecked in her trademark feathered headpiece, the small Glaswegian is ineffably glamorous, her faultless lilting vocals complementing the joyous calypso formula that 6 Day Riot triumph. The adorable trumpeter sways stage-right throughout, relishing the alternate reality that he is part of on this cold February evening, an antidote to Seasonal Affective Disorder that has won them scores of devoted followers.

And it is clear tonight that Schlesinger is proud of this success, her stage banter dominated by a plethora of namedrops, notably recent inclusions on Seth Lakeman’s last tour, the Glastonbury line-up and, er, the soundtrack of teen drama ‘Skins’, the latter perhaps totally confirming that they aren’t easily placed in the alt-folk pigeonhole that’s often bestowed upon them. A fiddle player they may have but 6 Day Riot fall somewhere between indie and pop, embracing the quirky scene pioneered by the likes of Kimya Dawson and Herman Düne while remaining as commercially accessible as Belle & Sebastian.

Established tracks such as ‘O These Kids’, inspired by insurance scammer John Darwin, and ‘Run For Your Life’, whose singalong chorus is introduced as “Nothing wrong with a bit of ooh”, supply a lot of fun alongside the new material, the general lyrical content of which betrays the carefree melodies with remarkable wit. A fine example of this apparent paradox occurs in final song, ‘Yadav’s Brother’, to which the audience oblige in providing “Russian sailor” backing vocals before crying for more and being rewarded a few seconds later with a truly original version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’, originally worked up for a BBC 6Music session.

And so it is. 6 Day Riot are a weird paradox of fiercely intelligent bohemian musicianship and pop prostitution, delivered with a persistence and gusto that ought to guarantee them yet more well-deserved attention in 2010.

Anna Claxton


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Anna: it’s always worth checking that the lack of dancing and skipping from a musician isn’t due to health issues…. I bet you’d complain that Stevie Wonder didn’t get eye contact with the audience and that Robert Wyatt couldn’t be arsed to stand up….!

Comment by Irving Weston

Why are you so cruel? I don’t even know who the first act is but you have issues

Comment by urajerk

Oh come on now. Saying a band is technically good but a little bit boring is hardly stern criticism.

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

Irving- if artists put themselves out there, they should expect people to form opinions of them, which is merely what I did. I appreciate what the band did but I feel stage performance- showing some passion for what you’re doing- is, for me, surely the most exciting thing about live music?? And making comparisons with a local folk band and Stevie Wonder is a little bit silly, don’t you think?

Urajerk- you don’t even know who the first act is? You do now… any publicity is good publicity as far as I’m concerned.

Comment by Anna C

P.S There was never a point where I criticised the whistle player for sitting down- merely for the bored expression on her face: perhaps the deely boppers on fire would make a welcome improvement.

Comment by Anna C

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