Nearly seven years after their debut album was released, Sunderland’s Field Music hardly qualify for the Next Big Thing title of this package gig from venue sponsors HMV – an idiosyncrasy pointed out by the band’s Peter Brewis with his assertion that they’ve been about for “a million years”.
As a group with an enduring following and the currency of a new album entitled Plumb out next week, however, they at least acted as a lightning rod for the genuine newbies on the bill, including local outfits Bwani Junction and Laki Mera. Their vintage notwithstanding, there’s still a pleasing youth and vitality to Field Music’s style, which is all the more impressive considering the band’s membership has been reshuffled more than once around the core of Brewis and his brother David. Fighting an uphill struggle against the cavernous reaches of a sparsely-attended Picture House and the relative torpor of a Monday night crowd (“This is a lot bigger than Sneaky Pete’s,” noted one of the brothers wryly), the quartet won a response the hard way, by grinding away with a sound which deftly incorporates angular post-punk revivalism and the skilful touch of classic pop tunesmiths.
Among the show’s highlights, Let’s Write a Book combined jagged guitars with a lightweight, looping funk, If Only the Moon Were Up echoed bright 1960s beat pop and Something Familiar created the uncanny effect of sounding like Hall and Oates playing in separate rooms.
“We’re kind of hoping that if Scotland gets independence you’ll take us too,” joked one of the Brewis brothers – by (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing’s irresistible finale, we would have been happy to oblige.