40 Watt Sun @ The Flapper, Birmingham – Sunday 8 March 2015

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Review by Jason Guest

It’s difficult to write this review without sounding as if I’m romanticising this evening’s all-too-brief one-hour performance. To stand two rows from the front almost directly in front of Pat Walker in silent anticipation of his singing that first note along with everyone else in attendance is an experience in itself. Indeed, with shows being few and far between, to say that anticipation was in the air for 40 Watt Sun’s first show in about a year would be no overstatement.

40 Watt Sun 8 March 2015As emotionally overwhelming as it is passionate and haunting, 2011’s The Inside Room is a truly magnificent piece of work. Dense and weighted whilst simultaneously elegant and fragile, it’s an album that places us between a lamented and irretrievable past and the vacancy of the future, that bleak, indifferent nothing over which we paint our futile aspirations that somehow urge us despairingly onward into the next moment. And their performance tonight is as achingly beautiful as the album.

Humble and unassuming, when Walker, drummer Leitch and bassist Spong have their gear set up and ready to go, Walker turns to the mic, says “okay”, the music playing over the PA quickly fades, and they begin. Though the guitar is distorted and the chords dense and dissonant, the open-hearted simplicity of the music and the naked honesty of the lyrics are devastating, even more so at an intimate gig such as this, this rapt and hushed audience – its members coming from all over the UK (and from Holland) – receiving the new songs as warmly as the well-known and well-worn tracks from the debut album.

Unlike any other gig where the band is compelled to engage with the audience, Walker confesses to not being the most anecdotal of frontman. But we don’t mind. The songs are more than enough. And because of that, the relationship between band and audience is established without need for such perfunctory superfluities. And much more intensely. With a long-awaited new album coming soon, we can but hope that 40 Watt Sun return to the second city soon. Well done to Sirius Promotions for organising such an exceptional show.