Stanley Brinks doesn’t seem like the type for nostalgia. Since leaving Herman Düne in 2006 the artist formerly known as André has released (by my count) 22 albums, darting between calypso electronica and acoustic balladry. Playing live, he rarely revisits material more than two years old. Requests from the back catalogue are usually met with an admission of forgetfulness or a polite, but firm “no”.
Some of the most exciting of Brinks’ recent releases have been collaborations with UK underground rock’n’roll darlings, and tonight’s backing band, The Wave Pictures. True to forward-looking form, the set includes numbers we can only assume will be released on Brink’s forthcoming LP, Gin.
Tall but slight, Brinks doesn’t cut the most imposing figure and booze features heavily, in his song lyrics, on the stage and in the audience. Tonight, the often sombre Brinks brings a sing-along, party atmosphere; but, as ever, on his own terms. Happily, no member of the venue’s staff raises any objections when the first of his succession of cigarettes is lit.The opening act, as is usually the case at a Stanley Brinks show, is Clemence Feschard, French born, Germany resident, and Brinks’ regular travel partner. Freschard’s band tonight features the always busy Wave Pictures – rhythm section Johnny Helm and Franic Rozycki plus the beautiful overkill of David Tattersall, along with the night’s headliner, exchanging guitar solos over Freschard’s delicate voice and witty songwriting. A gentle highlight is Freschard’s acoustic version of Tattersall’s ‘I Saw Your Hair Between The Trees’, silencing the previously restless audience who hang on every tender note.
After a smoking break, everyone (except Freschard) returns to the stage. As with the previous set, it becomes instantly clear how much of a shared language has built up between Brinks and the three Wave Pictures. The briefest of instructions repeatedly lead to staggering performances of Brinks’ rock’n’roll ditties. The blatant one-upmanship of the two guitarists dances finely on the line between good and bad taste, occasionally joyfully stepping over it, in what is essentially an improvised performance, with guitar jams rolling on as if the audience had been invited to band practice.
Brinks opens with ‘It’ll Be Me’, from this year’s Hovers album, followed by several as-yet unidentifiable numbers. Then follows a rare event: a diversion into Brinks’ back catalogue. Sticking mostly to tracks from collaborative albums with The Wave Pictures, which, criminally, sunk without trace in 2008 and 2010 respectively, songs like ‘Make Friends With People At Work’ and ‘Things Ain’t What They Used To Be’ are received like the pop smashes they deserved to be. We’re even treated to a decade-old classic from the Herman Dune days: ‘Sunny Sunny Cold Cold Day’. That it sounds as fresh as any other song in the set is a testament to Brink’s consistency.
So often is it the case that we are teased with the former glories of our once-beloved songwriters, to hear an old favourite sit comfortably alongside the current work without overshadowing it is a rare occasion, and one well worth celebrating. As the band for the night return to the stage for future single ‘Orange Juice’, it’s made clear that while he respects the past, Stanley Brinks keeps looking forwards.
Shacklewell Arms (27.08.13)