Lapis do it again
9th October 2013
This venue rarely gets used for live music, which is a real shame, as there's nothing wrong with it (it's tucked away underneath what used to be the Orange Street Music Club, now The Ballroom). Lapis Lazuli always bring in a decent crowd, and a great time was clearly had by all. As a result of new-ish bass recruit Toby Allen bringing his friends into the fold, the audience is now fully intergenerational, involving a younger component as well as all the usual suspects, and even a few old prog-heads bobbing about at the back.
There was no support act, so they were able to play two long sets. The first involved their more challenging material, including selected excerpts from their new magnum opus "Alien" (to be debuted in it's full 45-minute form on 8th November, after I've headed off to New Zealand, unfortunately). People hung back against the walls and took it all in. Although the music's tightly scripted Neil and Dan were doing some interesting stuff with their effects which added new facets to their already multi-faceted compositions. I'd love to see this band free things up and jam a bit more, but that may eventually come. For now, what they're doing is perfect. As someone pointed out later, multi-instrumentalist Dave adds the icing to the cake with his various offering (bits of conga playing, trumpet, little percussive interjections with bicycle bells, etc., the odd bit of singing/chanting, and — possibly the highlight of their live sets for me — his bamboo flute solo during the spacey bit of "The Void").
They'd got the setlist just right, with the second set consisting mainly of their funkier, more danceable material, ending with a superb "Hot Water on a Dirty Face". By this point the whole place was grooving. Having seen that extraordinary acoustic set they played in the woods a couple of months back, I feel almost spoiled and have to make an effort not to get annoyed that people are making so much noise and not fully listening to the music being created for them...but somehow Lapis work just as well as a party band, which, considering the complexity of their compositions, is quite an achivement. I left feeling considerably better than when I arrived, and I'm sure I wasn't alone in that.
The sound was near-perfect out front. I'm not sure who the sound person was, but he was totally focussed on his work and did it extremely well. There was only one brief passage where Phil's accordion got lost in the mix, but with six players, and a variety of unusual instruments being interchanged throughout, the occasional imbalance is to be expected.