Yoshimi & St. Polaroid, 09/03/10, SUB 071, Leiden

I reckon that I will never watch another artist in my gigging career that uses so many Glockenspiels

Another night of musical fun beckoned at the haven of tranquillity that is Leiden’s SUB; even the disconcerting site of far too many musical instruments lying around couldn’t dampen spirits, although I do think it worth mentioning that at one point there were more instruments than people, a worrying thing indeed. The evening’s entertainment promised two acts that could be classified at the indie-pop/entertainment end of the “New” Eclectic movement. (And yes, by “New” Eclectic I usually mean bands with far more instruments than band members.  And yes, it’s not new; this whole sub-orchestral approach to rock n roll has been going for a few years now).

Anyway, after negotiating the way through the fiddles, banjos and cow bells, Incendiary settled down to take in St. Polaroid, a three piece led by a gawky lead singer who had a very affecting, slightly nasal, vocal delivery which was appealing in that it afforded the songs a self-contained weirdness that walked just the right side of the Great Twee Divide: though you can imagine that this kind of thing can easily descend into Nuts In May-style balladeering. The offhand manner of delivery reminded this correspondent of Syd Barrett’s solo stuff, or Viv Stanshall’s quieter moments which is also a definite thumbs up. It was very sixties at times; one track’s chord progression sounded like a direct rip of Mr. Fantasy-era Traffic. Still, every song had its own wry, offbeat twist; with subjects including supermarkets, Jesus, pencils and the French. Best of the bunch was a song about having a double pair of eyes which had a twisted logic that hit the mark most forcibly. The only downside was the amount of Glockenspiel. Indeed I reckon that I will never watch another artist in my gigging career that uses so many Glockenspiels, though the “Glockenspieler” did – thankfully - wield a guitar in anger for the last song. Polite applause and the lads shuffled off to be replaced by yet more stuff, including a chair. Incendiary were beginning to wonder whether Yoshimi (a solo performer with a backing band of 5 others could fit on the stage.

Somehow the band got on stage including main man Niek, who, replete with oversize cloth cap, reminded us of Gaz from Supergrass. The band knocked out a slightly ramshackle set of pop tunes which were actually pretty great; certainly songs that could grate if left to teenage whimsy were belted out, troubadour style. What this lot has in abundance is energy and panache. We hope that there’s some steel there too, as audiences and listeners will have to peel back a few protective layers of cool to let Yoshimi off with their brazen, schoolroom muse. You get the feeling that bands with a sunny disposition always get a critical kicking, and Incendiary feel it wouldn’t be fair on this lot: for all their gaucheness, there’s a lot going on creatively. One or two tracks bordered on a sort of happy clappy, soul-boy funk, especially the last track which threatened to go all “ravey” on our asses. And if I tell you that a trombone part greatly added to the feeling of wild abandon, you’ll have to take me on trust.

Mildly exhilarating stuff.