With the twin blessings of unbelievably good weather and Andy Murray out of Wimbledon to ensure people weren’t at home in front of the TV, Saint Luke’s Church was rammed for Misery Guts’ Club Electric Sheep gig.
An event that saw people in the crowd gaze around in wonderment at their surroundings countless times per show, the Bombed Out Church further cemented its reputation as one of the best places in the city to watch gigs.
Following David Barnicle and The Random Family, Bird drew a sizable crowd, their acoustic-electric folk blues ideally pitched amongst the other acts on the bill.
Fronted by Marina (of the Diamonds) look-alike Adele Emmas, the band avoided the kooky eighties pop of the lead singer’s doppelganger, instead sounding far nearer to PJ Harvey and Portishead.
Possessed of a stunning voice, able to move from bluesy drawl to pirouetting high notes within the space of a few bars, Adele’s vocals guided the songs forwards as opposed to overwhelming them.
Polly Harvey’s pining emotion could also be heard in the bare bones guitar work of some of the songs.
The lead guitarist meted out plenty of twisting melody lines from his orange Gretsch, best heard on the final track, a startling, downbeat reinvention of The Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog.
Up next, The Big House opened their set with the sun baked sway of Too Far Gone, co-vocalist Candie Payne, talking of look-alikes, resembling a late 60s Jackie Onassis.
Silver and Gold recalled vintage Tom Petty, while a wistful reading of Pebble Lane showcased Candie and Paul Molloy’s watertight harmonies.
Canyon Home in the Sun chimed with the setting perfectly, as glancing around at the surroundings, and the sweltered crowd, being sat in Laurel Canyon, California didn’t seem too hard to imagine.
Closing with Gene Clarke cover Here Without You, Candie’s voice rose in volume and intensity as the set progressed, the duo concluding their time at its apex.
Taking to the alter for the headline fixture, Misery Guts had the (dis)advantage of the sun glaring down on them for their set, focusing the audience stage wards.
‘It’s the hottest place in the Universe up here’ vocalist David Hirst commented after the first few songs, Trying to Be the Sun never a more apt song choice in the present location.
Pete Flynn, switching between electric, nylon and steel strung guitars plus mandolin broadened the band’s sonic palate, as the melodies from a toy-like xylophone played by bassist Leon McNulty gave several songs a music box chime.
The clarity of the sound picked out every detail of the band’s performance, every nylon strung arpeggio ringing out clearly, an impressive feat considering the delicacy of many of the band’s songs.
A dark Let Me Be On My Way, sounding like an ancient sea shanty was one of many highlights in a note-perfect set strewn them.
Concluding with a terse reading of Spiders, its scuttling rhythm courtesy of drummer Martyn Harris’ percussion, the song seemingly becomes more viciously compellingly each time it is aired live.
Called back for an encore, the lyrics to If You Ever were known by the vast majority of the crowd, the group departing to huge applause.
Walking out on to St Luke’s Place at the gig’s end into the city centre with the traffic thundering past, you were suddenly reminded of where you where.
All praise to Misery Guts and their superlative supporting cast for creating the feel of an excellent music festival out in the sticks while held in the middle of an urban conurbation. Same time next year?
Photographs: Marie Hazlewood