Tag Archives: The Nightingales

The Nightingales, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 4 October 2018

A long ago sold-out evening at the Portland started with Near Jazz Experience playing a set that explored the seemingly limitless possibilities of a jazz trio; with drums and hefty electric bass providing the foundation for multi-instrumentalist Terry Edwards, mainly on saxophone (sometimes two at once!), melodica and pocket trumpet. Together they produced a super-tight rhythm driven sound varying from complex up-tempo pieces to the more wistful new single ‘Afloat’. The audience were happy to join the celebration of their addictive sound by playing along with percussion shakers (which I think were mostly handed back at the end…)

There was a time when a music line-up would often feature a comedian or poet (John Cooper Clark, Attila the Stockbroker, John Shuttleworth et al) and The Nightingales have maintained this tradition for their shows; on this tour it was cult legend Stewart Lee performing a relaxed and hilarious 20 minute act drawn from some of his 1988 club routines. Much-loved and appreciated, he certainly made his mark and left the audience wanting more!

The Nightingales continue to be a formidable live attraction with an energy and commitment that doesn’t diminish with time. Tonight playing an hour of continuous songs with no let-up for audience interaction or appreciation; it was a fully immersive experience. They have an immense back catalogue to draw on but also still release new material with album ‘Perish The Thought’ just out and featured single ‘Chaff’ being one of the highlights tonight.
Dynamically supported by spiky guitar and incisive bass and the superlative drumming and duelling vocal from Fliss Kitson, the lyrics and vocal demands of founder member Robert Lloyd draw you into their special and unique world. A a bit like listening to the late Mark E Smith, it is an onslaught on the senses. From the noise fuzz of ‘Real Gone Daddy’ to the punching art-rock of ‘Best of British Luck’ and the timeless sentiment of relative oldie ‘Company Man’, tonight showed that the Nightingales continue to push against the barriers.


The Nightingales, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 16 April 2014

The first of four acts at the Portland Arms, Motor Tapes (Cambridges’s answer to Radiohead?) followed up their recent second place winning set at the Junction Fiverfest band competition with another good performance. The first two songs established a contemplative wash of sound, before the rockier edge later. A surprise inclusion was a version of ‘Blue Monday’, treating the New Order original to more of a guitar and drum workout, going down well with the steadily growing audience. Congratulations to all who were responsible for the sound quality, excellent throughout the whole evening.

Kepler on next ( the name of a 17th Century Astronomer, this is Cambridge…), building up the atmosphere with their hard edged, tightly played songs, mostly their own compositions blending well with versions of ‘I’m Bored’ by Iggy Pop (we weren’t…) and ‘Lenny Valentino’ by The Auteurs. It was good to see a band that clearly enjoyed the music they were playing.

The arrival of Ted Chippington (the ‘anti-comedian’?) was much anticipated, like John Cooper Clarke (recently at The Junction) he has a loyal following, built up over many years and closely associated with alternative music. Over a quiet background of mournful late-night jazz he begins anecdotes and observations that go nowhere. Some comedic clichés are dissected and discarded with impeccable timing. Difficult to describe, you have to see him to realise how well the humour works, the audience were mesmerised.

Then straight into The Nightingales, favourites of John Peel (in the Top 3 of most number of Peel sessions, along with The Fall and Half Man Half Biscuit). They were a revelation. I had expected the detailed lyrical references and intense sound, a combination of Fall and Half Man, but as well as this the musical intricacy and power held the crowd rapt. Compelling frontman Robert Lloyd scowled, shouted, and even serenaded a cappella. He traded lines with drummer Fliss Kitson as she pounded a pulverising rhythm with little use for the cymbals as underneath the bass and guitar drove the sound faultlessly. The second half of the set was even more impressive, the songs linked together with no breaks – time, tempo and dynamics changing at a breathless pace. They left with no encore, the audience were bowled over, we had witnessed something very special.