All 2 entries tagged Brakes

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October 30, 2007

Brakes: An alternative view

Photo by Rob Gilbert

Union Marketplace, 9th October 2007

There’s a moment during tonight’s headline set when even the pissed-up plebs at the front pipe down and for four glorious minutes the world slows to a crawl. Against a plateau of subtly melodic feedback, Eamon Hamilton’s idiosyncratic wail becomes a sorrowful howl of anguish as he recalls a dying relationship via the incidental drama of rifling through old records. The song in question is No Return, the closing track of Brakes’ superb Beatific Visions LP. An all-too fleeting glimpse of the beating heart behind their peculiar brand of knockabout whimsy, it’s a disarmingly serene interlude in an otherwise sprightly evening’s entertainment.

As one might expect from an act which started life as a side-project, there’s a playful exuberance to Brakes which could only come from the unique chemistry of four mates larking around onstage. Tracks like their wilfully childish ode to U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney (“Cheney, Cheney, Cheney, Cheney / Stop being such a dick!”) come and go in the blink of an eye, dragging the average song-length down to around 90 seconds. It’s a knowing strategy that leaves plenty of breathing space for the band to try their hand at a number of musical styles, with breezy hoe-downs, indie stompers and even a well-timed Johnny Cash cover all getting an airing tonight.

With so much of their output apparently conceived with such gleeful irreverence, it comes as no surprise that the best reaction is saved for the irrepressible inanity of Porcupine or Pineapple?, a song they introduce as a treatise on “animals, fruit and warfare”. While Brakes would no doubt be the first to admit that they’re saying nothing of any import, when a band is this much fun it seems churlish to quibble. Eventually they abandon the setlist altogether and the whole thing degenerates into an impromptu request-a-thon, leaving even the most casual onlooker with their heart stolen clean away.

With sterling support from the Biffy-cum-Get Up Kids clatter of The Xcerts (whose set culminates in their singer wandering through the crowd screaming into a megaphone), this was both a fine start to Warwick’s live music calendar and a much-needed jolt of adrenaline after a week of non-stop partying. Heroic stuff all round, then: if you missed it, you missed out.

Chris Carter

Photo: Rob Gilbert

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October 29, 2007

Brakes Live

Brakes live Photo by Rob Gilbert

Photo: Rob Gilbert 

The Brakes contingent were in good spirits the night of their visit. Unfailingly hospitable, Eamon invited me in to the dressing room and left me sat chatting to drummer Alex pre-gig. Compiling a CD for his girlfriend, he cherrypicked the best tunes from the likes of Tom Waits, Ben Folds, Jeffrey Lewis and Nina Simone, among others, as we remembered the strange stories we discussed on our last meeting. Alex proved the exception to the rule of the good mood, and while not unfriendly, he was somewhat distracted and frustrated. During the show, the monitor fell onto him, then the snare developed a wide gash. He left the stage and the gig ground to a halt. Not the ending we expected, but a cracking show nonetheless. While he smoked at the back of the building, the bands and crew retired to dressing rooms to enjoy the surprisingly lavish rider and a modest birthday celebration. Eamon and I talked classic American novels as I was handed a drink, inappropriate jokes were told, and both Brakes and the Xcerts drew portraits and caricatures of each other on the whiteboards- some of which were amazingly accurate. Eamon, who had slept through the earlier soundtrack, was penalised by the others, who laughed as he was forced to pack up. Leaving with hugs and farewells, the band had words of praise for the Union staff and crowd, and promised to return. They're welcome any time.

Holly Barnes

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