It’s a cold September night. I arrive at my destination, squeezing past two chaps busking quite literally on the door step of The Night & Day Café. It’s one way to get yourself on the bill I suppose.
‘You must be freezing,’ I say.
‘You must be mad,’ they say.
Thus ends that little interaction and I find myself already at the bar catching the very last song of Willie Healey’s set. He’s a tall, slight looking gent with an unmistakable ginger mop of hair. For all of their final three minutes on stage, I find him quite magnetic and enjoy watching Sean Lennon on drums and Kurt Cobain on bass – OK, well their doppelgangers anyway.
A quick turnaround ensues whilst three roadies set the stage for London’s Summer Camp – a duo made up of married couple Jeremy Walmsley and Elizabeth Sankey. They released their third LP, Bad Love, earlier this year on indie label Moshi Moshi and also soundtracked teen movie documentary Beyond Clueless last year.
As Sankey takes to the stage I realise that the three ‘roadies’ are indeed the rest of the band, including Walmsley.
Set opener is ‘Down’ from their first LP Welcome to Condale – an album packed full of catchy indie pop gems and ‘Down’ is no exception: jumpy guitar, driving bass and rocky drums support Sankey’s strong, sultry and southern vocals. Her vocal display is particularly something to behold tonight, in a venue famous for submerging and eventually drowning all vocals by the hands of the latest protégé of Night & Day’s sound guy academy.
Summer Camp are definitely comfortable in their own skin and their upbeat persona never looks out of place and shines through the murkiness of the room with summery hit ‘Better Off Without You’ or the dancey, groove of ‘Fresh’. There are a few awkward moments of stage banter vs. heckling – when Walmsley has to disappear to the floor to inspect his guitar tuner, Sankey is left to deal with a couple of guys who appear to have been in the bar so long they didn’t get asked for a ticket, and are wondering why these kids on stage have interrupted The Stone Roses track that was playing earlier.
A highlight of the set is lead track from the soundtrack to documentary ‘Beyond Clueless’ – clips from the film play on the wall at the back of the stage, prompting feelings of nostalgia frontward, for me. Backdropped by images of Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions, Sankey sings: ‘She thinks everybody’s in love with her./She’s a stone cold fox’.
The new album’s sound leans a little more towards eighties synths with more focus on the vocals than on previous releases. They’re a departure from the older songs but ‘You’re Gone’ is a belter and my favourite from Bad Love. A few tracks from the new record later and we’ve reached the last song – a great cover of 4 Non Blonde’s ‘What’s Up?’ which has the audience singing at full volume. Night & Day attendees have not been at their most animated tonight, so this final track is stroke of genius, leaving the crowd simmering with a warm feeling – exactly what I need to venture back out into the cold September night.
Read the review on Silent Radio