WARM DIGITS + FRUITY WATER + POLITE BUREAUX – THE HOPE & RUIN, BRIGHTON 26.11.21
There was a joyous atmosphere tonight at The Hope & Ruin on Queens Road, Brighton as punters of all ages had arrived to take in the delights that concert promoters (and record label) Love Thy Neighbour had laid on for them. It was as though everyone had taken full advantage of the Black Friday deals for Christmas and were relieved to have got that out of the way and now were going to get down and party.
This evening, it was very much a guitar and synth affair with a trio of acts applying their wares. First up on stage were Polite Bureaux, which is the brainchild of 22 year old Bradford born Yorkshireman Joe Smith. The idea behind Polite Bureaux is to serve as a collaboration project intent on working with different people with different sounds. This evening Joe is joined by fellow BIMM Brighton graduate Jas, who hails from the big smoke. This will be only their second live outing together. This has created something a little different from the norm as both of them play their bass guitars, which are complimented with Korg keys and a laptop.
The young duo kicked off their 25 minute six song set at 8:21pm. The pre-programmed sounds emanating from the laptop aren’t as crisp as they would be if they were played live, but to be honest this added to their charm. We were served pounding backbeats to pseudo industrial rhythms and would most definitely be for or fans of Sisters of Mercy, Clan of Xymox, later Joy Division and early New Order and even possibly The Cure and bands of that ilk.
Joe’s vocals are deeper and more powerful than one would anticipate. He has his bass lower hung just like Peter Hook (Warsaw/Joy Division/New Order) does and when needs be, Joe has the moves to boot. After a trio of tunes ‘Estate’, ‘What The Dormouse Said’ and ‘SquatADVISOR’, it was Jas’s turn on vocal duty. Her vocal delivery is rather distinctive, like Liz Frazer of Cocteau Twins is, but Jas has very much her own sound. This was a solid toe tapping opening set that concluded with ‘Radioisotope’ and thankfully the duo are still based here in Brighton and will no doubt pop back up with another Brighton concert announcement rather soon. At 8:46pm they made way for another Brighton based duo to take to the stage 17 minutes later.
Polite Bureaux setlist:
‘What The Dormouse Said’
Polite Bureaux are on Facebook.
It was now 9:03pm and time for Fruity Water to take to the stage. The duo consists of Adam on guitar and Smalan on keyboards and they refer to themselves as “just a couple of lads making some dreamy electro-pop”. It really doesn’t get any more complicated than that. We have had the fortune to have caught these lads playing live around Brighton over the past few years and they have never failed to deliver in their own unassuming way. In fact, every time I have seen them perform, they simply get better and better and this was again the case in question this evening.
The venue had filled up quite a bit by the start of their 35 minute performance of a mere handful of tunes. This local duo have got continually more dancey as they have gone along and I for one reward them. Yes we still have Adam, tonight sporting a striking multi-coloured pair of trainers, on shared vocals and plucking away on his Fender guitar, but Smalan is in charge of a majority of their equipment that includes a laptop, Novation Launchkey 25 MkI Keyboard Controller, a Roland, a Yamaha Reface CP Electric Piano, and Ableton Push.
They kicked off with ‘Water The Plants’, which for me was the weakest of the five numbers, but this was followed by ‘Big Bomb’, which sounds like the Electronic supergroup, mixed with Adam’s vocals in the style of Barney from New Order, mixed in with Edwyn Collins of Orange Juice as well as Peter Perrett from the Only Ones.
By their third number, Fruity Water are going down rather well indeed. Adam’s vocal delivery is at times similar to early Barney from New Order and whilst they were performing (‘Heartbeats’ I think) I had “I want to see my family, My wife and child waiting for me, I’ve got to go home, I’ve been so alone, you see..” from New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’ (from their 1985 ‘Low-Life’ album) playing around in my head.
Now then………..when the lads launched into song 4 of 5, which is titled ‘1234’ (which has nothing to do with Dee Dee Ramone), I was suddenly whisked off to a dreamy hot holiday destination with a Piña colada in my hand. I tell you what, it was solely worth coming out tonight just for this track. It’s awesome! The punters concurred!
But then, OMFG they only went and totally eclipsed it, with their final epic number ‘Bye Bye Me’ from their 2017 ‘Wasted Summer’ single. This is a banging choon that have evolved in a live setting to ever so much more than the recorded version. It is overlain with frantic fuzzy echoey guitar from Adam and has a hypnotic and awesome beat and rightly so got the biggest cheer of their songs on the night! Shame that it had to end at 9:38pm
Fruity Water have suddenly since lockdown became a vastly improved outfit and one I look forward to seeing live on many more occasions!
Fruity Water setlist:
‘Water The Plants’
Bye Bye Me’
Fruity Water can be located on Bandcamp.
A mere 16 minutes later, at 9:54pm, we were graced with the presence of the third trio of the night. This came in the form of headliners Warm Digits who have been travelling the country in their tour bus of choice….a Nissan Note.
Warm Digits are Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s thunderous motorik space-disco duo with a pounding post-punk pulse. Their latest album ‘Flight Of Ideas’, (listen/purchase HERE) features vocal contributions from Maximo Park’s Paul Smith, The Lovely Eggs, The Orielles, Rozi Plain and the Delgados’ Emma Pollock.
Warm Digits are Andrew Hodson and Steve Jefferis. Their previous album for Memphis Industries, was titled ‘Wireless World’, (listen/purchase HERE) and saw the light of day in 2017. It featured guest vocals from Field Music and Sarah Cracknell, amongst others, and garnered plaudits from BBC 6Music including an “Album of the Day” slot and a 6 week playlist place for ‘Growth Of Raindrops’ which featured the aforementioned Saint Etienne lead singer.
The duo this evening are clad in homemade made long sleeved tops that have luminous lighting running down the sides of both arms. Andy choosing the red option and Steve the blue option. Drummer Andy informs us that he made them with his father and they have been wearing them on the tour, but quite yet haven’t worked out how to wash them. This sounded ominous, but I was standing at the very front and I must convey that I wasn’t aware of any erroneous odours wafting off of the stage. Mind you, Andy would have been able to smell himself or Steve anyway, as since recovering from his bout of covid, he has totally lost his sense of smell. One of the omnipresent concert goers ‘Two Pints Jules’, perfectly summed up their look, during a quiet moment in proceedings between numbers. He informed the room that “It’s all gone very Tron!”, which was met with great amusement from all and sundry. It’s always a pleasure when he’s around.
So back to events, and the duo had brought along various equipment as part of their 75 minute, thirteen tune set. This included obviously Andy’s drum set and some electronics and Steve was on guitar and below on him on the floor there was a Behringer FCB1010 MIDI Foot Controller which comes with ten banks of pre-sets which is rather handy. There was also a laptop as well as a small Epson projection unit, that was throwing out blurry images during their opening number, which was ‘Replication’, which can be found on the latest 2020 ‘Flight Of Ideas’ album, which was the first of the six tunes they played from this current platter.
There was a pause after the first number whilst Steve had a word with the naughty projection unit. He fixed it and it played THIS VIDEO for ‘Feel The Panic’ which has vocals from Holly from The Lovely Eggs, whilst the duo played live along with it. Steve and Andy choose to record only instrumentals and so they call on the services of other well known musicians for the vocal work on selected numbers. Thus half of the latest album has special guest vocalists and the other half are instrumental numbers.
The next two songs this evening have special guests via the Epson. There was Emma Pollock from the Delgados singing on ‘The View From Nowhere’ (WATCH HERE) and Paul Smith from Maximo Park on ‘Fools Tomorrow’. I believe that Andy said that the latter number was about the Metro system, but there was quite a considerable amount of talking from behind me so I can’t be totally sure.
I would suggest that the drums took over the whole sound and that the other sounds were sadly secondary. But I guess that’s what you get in a great compact venue. Their music has a funky dance vibe and great usage of the cowbells that one can swing your thang too.
Andy informed us that he hadn’t actually seen the sea for two whole years until today, as he is now based in the centre of England in Derby and the sight of the sea and Brighton Beach made him cry with joy! Thus the nautical theme carried on with ‘The Connected Coast’. After which ‘False Positive’ and ‘Two To Four Degrees’ both got outings.
It was then time for disco stomper ‘The Rumble And The Tremor’ which features guest vocals from Devon Sproule – watch it HERE. Next came my favourite song of the night by Warm Digits. This was ‘End Times’ from their 2017 ‘Wireless World’ album, with vocals from Field Music. It reminded me of a mixture of The Talking Heads and Donna Sumner era Giorgio Moroder. See what you think by watching the video HERE. They concluded their main set with the even faster (and oldest tune of the night) ‘Weapons Destruction’ which is found on their 2011 ’Keep Warm... with the Warm Digits’ album.
The crowd really enjoyed their main set which initially concluded at 10:59pm, but the duo submitted and they went on to play for a further ten minutes with two more compositions from the 2017 ‘Wireless World’ album for us lucky punters
Warm Digits setlist:
‘Replication’ (from 2020 ‘Flight Of Ideas’ album)
‘Feel The Panic’ (feat the Lovely Eggs) (from 2020 ‘Flight Of Ideas’ album)
‘The View From Nowhere’ (feat Emma Pollock) (from 2020 ‘Flight Of Ideas’ album)
‘Fools Tomorrow’ (feat Paul Smith) (from 2020 ‘Flight Of Ideas’ album)
‘The Connected Coast’ (from 2013 ‘Interchange’ album)
‘False Positive’ (from 2020 ‘Flight Of Ideas’ album)
‘Two To Four Degrees’ (from 2017 ‘Wireless World’ album)
‘The Rumble And The Tremor’ (feat. Devon Sproule) (from 2017 ‘Wireless World’ album)
‘End Times’ (feat. Field Music) (from 2017 ‘Wireless World’ album)
‘Flight Of Ideas’ (from 2020 ‘Flight Of Ideas’ album)
‘Weapons Destruction’ (from 2011 ’Keep Warm... with the Warm Digits’ album)
‘Growth Of Raindrops’ (from 2017 ‘Wireless World’ album)
‘Wireless World’ (from 2017 ‘Wireless World’ album)
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