Timber Timbre at Leaf (16 Oct ’14)

This is an extended version of my Getintothis review of Canadian band Timber Timbre’s gig at Leaf on Thursday night (as usual, featuring more beer and t-shirts), one of just four UK stops on their tour supporting new release “Hot Dreams”.

I went on a failed shopping mission for my beloved wife, which neatly left me next to the Richard John Blackler pub, so I made good use of a CAMRA 50p-off-a-pint voucher to quench my thirst before scooting up to the venue in time for the support act. I was recognised by Tom from Harvest Sun on the ticket desk, who I’d never but before, thanking me for my preview of this gig for Getintothis.

I got a bottle of Waggledance while enjoying some of the pre-gig tunes, including Johnny Cash’s majestic “Ain’t No Grave”, with a snatch of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra’s “Lady Bird” played before Last Ex came on stage, who are actually two fifths of Timber Timbre themselves: Simon Trottier on a very sparkly guitar and Olivier Fairfield on drums and occasional programming. His multi-tasking even including continuing to keep the rolling, jazzy beat while keeping a spare stick tucked under his armpit. They played to a polite, attentive and increasingly packed audience, who appreciated the experimental, instrumental sounds that meandered around. A high point was the tune that featured Trottier’s guitar sounding uncannily like a mosquito, bringing to mind a more extreme version of Wire’s “I Am The Fly”. There was a hint of The Shadows in their music as well, before they closed with a final, queasy number.


As the venue was now pretty packed, I made the tactical error of waiting too long before heading for a second drink, with the bar now rammed, not helped by some of the bar staff not managing the queue very well, and an excess of people paying by card to slow things down even more. It was now very hot in there so I went for a pint of Amstel, although it was about three songs into Timber Timbre’s set before I could get away from the bar.

The new TT album has broadened their trademark sound, with singer Taylor Kirk’s arboreal voice calling to mind singers like Bill Callahan and Stuart Staples. Apart from the aforementioned Trottier and Fairfield, the band also included Mathieu Charbonneau on keyboards, although they all add a variety of sounds to the affecting, cinematic palette on record.

Their usual black and white design aesthetic was converted into a dark red stage presence, with very little lighting
and a lack of tolerance for any photography. This gloomy set made Kirk appear somewhat like a cross between The Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Francis Dolarhyde in Manhunter.


They soon hit their stride with “Beat The Drum Slowly” and “Bring Me Simple Men” off the new album, continuing the lyrical hunting theme of the latter by then playing “Lonesome Hunter” from “Creep On Creepin’ On”, one of several tracks to emphasise the key role played by the keyboards in their mesmerising sound.

They hit an almost rockist note when performing “Until The Night Is Over” from their eponymous third (and first widely available) LP, with further highlights including “Black Water” and “Bad Ritual“ from the fourth disc, the driving surf guitar of “Timber Timbre”’s “Magic Arrow” and the new release’s “This Low Commotion”.

The biggest crowd favourite was certainly the title track from their latest album, with the opening lyrics slightly amended to “I wanna dance with the Liverpool women”, with two gentlemen striding to the very front to somewhat clumsily sway together, before one of their female friends stepped in to make things ever so slightly more fluent. In fact, the group of people next to me were very annoying in their loudness and inebriation, with one of their number acting a drunken cheerleader for the rest of them.

After an hour, Kirk said the band’s farewells and then they segued immediately into an encore, saying it was “too hot to pretend” otherwise. The delicate, mostly solo “Run From Me” from “Hot Dreams” battled above the crowd noise before the show climaxed with the furious end to “Trouble Comes Knocking” from the eponymous album.

Tonight’s t-shirt
I debuted my red Silent Sleep t-shirt tonight, in honour of having seen this fine band at the same venue during this year’s Sound City. Again, there was a dearth of band t-shirts on show tonight, making this feature somewhat redundant in my reviews, but I shall persevere! One of the barmen had a Beatles t-shirt, while I spotted someone in a Run-D.M.C. sweatshirt.


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