Last Sunday I wasn’t too well. Overwork, a summer cold and a lack of sleep had laid me low. But Mothertongue were playing on Sunday in Balham, so I wasn’t staying in bed were I belonged. I was heading to south London.
The other motivation, along with supporting Mothertongue and fellow BEM acts Under a Banner and Verbal Delirium, was to find and punish a man named Tony.
Tony claims he’s a fan of my music. That might be the case, though if you can decipher this sub-Joycean melange of a review you’re more clever than I. He is however guilty of the most egregious, violent punning on the internet. He’s, let’s be frank, a twatbadger and one I was determined to deal with, despite my cold induced fug.
Mothertongue are everything I want in a band. The moment I heard the opening lyrics to Tyrant of the Lizard Kings – “I’ll work the pedals and the devil can steer, things are gonna change, gonna change round here” – I was hooked and the rest of their album Unsongs is an absolute delight.
What do they sound like? Well, at Midsummer Madness, the gig in Balham, they were sans drums, so this gig wasn’t exactly typical. On record, with the full electric set-up they’re all catchy choruses, hooky trumpet lines, catchy choruses, interesting guitar parts, catchy choruses, amazing lyrics, and songs you want to dance, jump and down and singalong with.
I like a singalong chorus and Mothertongue have got ’em by the bucketload.
Acoustic, obviously things were quieter which meant the melody writing was highlighted, both in the vocal harmony parts and the lead guitar and trumpet. Frontman Louis was a delight, thanking David Elephant of Bad Elephant Music was signing them, thereby taking them from obscurity into further obscurity.
As a teenager, as well as my metal, I loved Britrock stuff like Mansun and Gomez and so on. Having got older, I also like clever muso things, and I’ve always liked a singalong bit. Mothertongue do all of that and this gig was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Before them I caught the end of Under a Banner’s set and was surprised by the cover of Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, which they performed with gusto and skill. Broken down trains had kept me from the venue for the start of their set, but I really enjoyed what I heard.
Verbal Delirium from Greece were clearly the audience’s favourite of the three and I can see why. There’s was a performance of real class and skill, and much closer to a traditional prog act – albeit with goth and metal ingredients as well – which explains the enthusiasm given the prog bent of the rest of the bill.
By this point however, I was flagging and had gone deaf in one ear – a hindrance more related to illness then loud music. Tony by this point had already heckled me from the stage, which I’m sure is not the right way round for heckling, but other than giving him a warm friendly greeting (see the picture above) I decided that it was time to head home and find my bed.
Next time, Tony. Next time.