Luxury Stranger / In Isolation / The Jan Doyle Band
The Chameleon Arts Cafe, Nottingham
September 30th, 2016
Okay, this gig happened a month ago, so I do apologise to the bands for taking a while to get this up!
It's been far too long since my wife and I last caught the wonderful Luxury Stranger live, and when this triple-bill of musical delights came along, we had to be there. We hadn't been to the Chameleon Arts Cafe before, despite having lived in Nottingham for seven and a half years. A marvellous secret venue right in Market Square, it houses a friendly bar and an upstairs gig room, which was pleasingly lo-fi and intimate. The perfect setting for that night's entertainment.
In Isolation have been on my radar for years, but our paths never crossed until tonight. This had me kicking myself, as they were fantastic. Mixing elements of The Cure, The Smiths and Joy Division into one beautiful melancholic pop entity, the band gave a wonderful performance of guitar-driven dark indie taken from their formidable back catalogue as well as the current album, 'A Certain Fractal Light'.
The trio have a beautifully synchronised sound and awareness of each other as musicians which hooked us from the first song. The material has been crafted perfectly, peaks and valleys vying for attention amongst the instantly memorable choruses. An incredible set by a band that truly left us agape with awe. Fantastic.
Luxury Stranger had their work cut out for them, but enigmatic frontman Simon York and focused bassist Jake Hampson (currently without a live drummer) faced that challenge head-on and ensured the audience was given the perfect ending to a splendid evening. Despite playing as a duo at present, the sound was full and immediate, the two musicians illuminated only by a spotlight at the side of the stage. This left them as glowing silhouettes, and along with the stark imagery projected behind them gave the music the perfect visual accompaniment.
Their emotive blend of post-punk, dark indie and alternative rock is topped off perfectly by Simon's full-bodied voice and his engaging stage presence. Over a set which included songs such as 'Paradise Untouched', the hauntingly beautiful 'Dreaming Our Lives Away', the compelling 'Ripple' and the rousing dark pop of current single 'When The Lady Takes The Blame', Luxury Stranger turned an intimate gig in a room over a greetings card shop into an engrossing moment of monochromatic performance art.
At £6 for all three bands, it was fantastic value. CDs were bought. Friends were made. We left happy, chatting animatedly about the quality of the evening, striding out for a taxi and promising to see those bands again as soon as possible. Now that's should say it all.