Friday night at the SUB is always messy, even if you don’t want it to be. The heady combo of paying 1 euro for a beer and waiting 40 minutes for a band can wreck sensitive souls. Truth is though that the 40 minute wait was needed on this particular night, as no-one was in the venue for a good half hour. And this time the drink was needed; as SUB was graced by some of Leiden’s notoriously braying students, a tribe whose divine right to conquer the world has to be accepted by all us lesser mortals. Somehow I still think, at the back of their minds, there’s a (doubtless long buried) bitterness that the slave trade was abolished before they could (if you will excuse the pun) give it a crack of the whip... Still a bit of patronising and swaggering about will do for now, thank you.
Once everyone was in and settled we had Bob Corn, Italian virtuoso and charmer. Incendiary make no secret of the fact that we are big fans, and his intimate, seemingly simple vibe was yet again an absolute wonder to behold. Bob ran through a set of songs that mentioned thunder and rainbows, the different names given to bird wings, and how he missed some friends in another band. His manner of playing guitar (clean, stripped down to the basics, but with the accent on a beautifully modulated and rich tone) was the perfect counterfoil for his quirky and charming muse. Bob also strummed a couple of numbers whilst walking around the SUB (to be honest that isn’t hard such is its size) and effectively serenading the crowd. A brilliant gig yet again, the guy is a living legend in our book. We trooped upstairs to watch Lina Paul, who strummed a set of ethereal musings with a guitar tape recorder and keyboard for company. The ideas were good, but sadly Lina was a tad out of tune at times; a fact that seriously undermined her fragile observations on life and love. Shame. Still she did a very imaginative cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog.
We stayed upstairs to see Alma Church Choir, a genial duo from Germany whose soft, reverential folk (very much in the manner Simon & Garfunkel it has to be said) was wonderful. And boy, does this duo know how to play. Everything was balanced to a tee, and the vocal harmonies were frankly stunning. They are an aptly named act, as there was the feeling that they were members of a church choir playing hooky and running through a side project... Still, fuzziness and reverential overload aside, Incendiary can’t recommend them highly enough.
Downstairs to the regular venue; this time to take in Miss Anthropy, whose dark thoughts on sex, self-harm (?) and relationships in general added a shard of slight menace: thinning out the slightly glutinous amount of warm feelings that had been slowly building up through the night. That’s not to say the music is in anyway unappealing, quite the reverse; Anthropy allows the clever use of delay to create mesmerising webs of sound that can calm any storm in an audience, even the braying elite “legion” of Leiden University. The songs are lullabies, but often displaying a dark, slightly sinister core. And it was a truly great gig, delivered with a calm assurance of one who knows they are bloody good.
Afterwards we partied as you do in SUB, (well stand in the tint space with a beer in hand chatting to the Heads on the Leiden scene) thinking all the while that this is one of the great creative, “human spaces” in this country. Where would we be without it?