A Family Affair
- Ben Morse -
- 19.12.13 -
Christmas time. A time for families, traditionally. So it gave me great pleasure to wander down to Camden's Barfly, a venue as familiar to me as my own grandparents (in that it's very old and smells faintly of piss, but I love it anyway) to see members of my own extended family, for a very XtraMile Christmas show.
Pottering around through soundcheck, the usual suspects arrive. New kids on the block To Kill A King are arguing the merits of stripping for your partner. Jamie Lenman is stretching in a new trilby that he found that very afternoon. Uncle Frank Turner is bimbling about, hugging people and telling war stories. Jay-Beans-On-Toast (for that will always be his name) appears with a grannies shopping trolly full of merch. Chris T-T and the Hoodrats soundcheck without batting an eye. The family are all here.
XFM's Xposure XtraMile night (XXX night?) opens with Jamie. It's a mixture of Muscle Memory, some savvy blues covers (which are perhaps lost on the younger members of the crowd, but appreciated by the rest of us) and Reuben's Good Luck, with Frank on harmonies - a decision made an hour before doors, which resulted in lots of scribbling of notes (his "GCSE Bitesize revision folder" as I believe Jamie referred to it on stage) and lots of great cock ups that I definitely don't have on tape. Jamie's wife then joined him for a Fairytale of New York cover. Because Jamie's a family man. And, also, y'know - Christmas.
Next up was Beans On Toast, who John Kennedy (host of the Xposure show) had asked not to swear. He lasted 4 minutes. During the set, which was dangerously close to coherent, we got classics, and unreleased tracks. Oh, and the crowd had to pretend to be battery hens for a song about a giant mutant Nandos murder-chicken that kills humans. Pretty standard, really.
To Kill A King have had a year of two halves - the second half much better than the first. They're lovely, and are XM's shiny new kids. They proved why they've done so well around the world with Bastille, and are clearly having a whale of a time. The old man in me loves moments like this. Here's a band, clearly loving every second, and a crowd soaking it all in. Well done, XtraMile.
Finishing the night off was Chris T-T and the Hoodrats. Now, back in September, they also played at the Monarch for the XM birthday bash. They were good then. But wow - tonight is something else. This band live are awesome. Opening salvo of 1994 into The Bear removed or filled the collective underwear of the front four rows, and I'm pretty sure I saw a wandering teenager with their face melted clean off. In the calmer moment s of the set, say during A Beaten Drum, the crowd were in wrapt attention. The band closed out with Girls, mostly to silence an increasingly refreshed Frank Turner, who seemed pretty keen to hear it, and Giraffes #1, which I love.
I've had a great year, XM-wise. I've made some new friends, and my old chums have risen from strength to strength. 2014 is going to be an exciting year in all sorts of ways that I know about, and a lot that I don't. But that's to come. Right now, I'm two turkey sandwiches down, and in full on retrospective mode. 2013 has been good to me, and a lot of that is thanks to the work of all the artists and crew at XtraMile. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
See you in 2014. I'll be around.