Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

John Parish
the Spitz, London

John Parish has always been something of an enigma. One of those people whose name you’ve always known but, other than ‘Dance Hall At Louse Point’, his 1996 collaboration with PJ Harvey, very few people outside of his loyal following actually know anything that he’s done, a situation exacerbated by his seemingly random appearances of other people’s records.

Similarly, it’s also quite hard to know what to expect of Parish. Five years ago, he was playing with a thirteen-piece band, last time he headed off on tour he was down to just nine people. Tonight’s four-piece, including Parish, seems practically anorexic by comparison.

Another inconstant here is Parish’s musical style, which changes as regularly as the number of beds on his tour bus. ‘Dance Hall At Louse Point’ was a brash, howling translation of PJ Harvey’s solo work. He flitted through pared down rustic folk before adopting the expansive textural landscapes of ‘How Animals Move’. More recently Parish seems to have settled, for the time being at least, for an intimate-sounding barroom blues, in part reminiscent of Tindersticks, if they had stripped of their strings, horns and unfathomable vocals, or the ‘Sticks’ American peers, the National.

But this current incarnation of the Parish band demands an intimate setting, and that is the last thing that he’s granted tonight. A large part of the crowd is restless – that large part obviously not including the substantial number of people that leave before Parish sheepishly saunters onstage more than an hour later than expected. Although not quite an ungodly time of night, it’s far too close to the witching hour and the new go-slow stylings struggles to connect with those who remain. Proceedings also aren’t helped by the fact that the new electric line up of tonight’s support band, Gravenhurst, have just played a spellbinding and exceptionally loud set that is still reverberating around the venue.

In fact, when all these factors are put together, Parish is just too underwhelming tonight. Anyone that came along hoping for the six guitar art-rock ensemble of a few years ago has been left disappointed and unfortunately that seems to be the overriding emotion tonight. Looks like Parish’s enigmatic status is safe for the meantime.

Labels: , ,