25 Jan Planes Over Paris – The Trafalgar 24/01/09
When a band is called something such as this, it invites too many puns based on their name. I think to do this to a band of this calibre would be doing them a complete disservice. Planes’ have been together in this format for about a year now, previously going by the name of Gratiz 3 and raising quite a decent following on the Manx music scene. But now with the new name and new material, also with the addition of keys/synths and a tweak of their sound to a more atmospheric direction, there’s no reason why this band cannot achieve great things away from the Island. Last night’s show to a packed out Trafalgar went a long way towards proving this…
From the outset, you can tell that is a band that has made every effort possible to rehearse every note to the point of perfection and this is evident in the way that their songs are put across. With material of the quality of Someone Else’s Sun and Hospital Patio (both incidentally available to listen to on the Planes Over Paris MySpace page) you can hear the rare sound of 4 musicians playing as a single unit. Over the top of Ben & Martyn who are one of the tightest rhythm sections you’ll have the pleasure to hear are some wonderfully subtle synth sounds from new recruit Steff that for once in a band don’t overpower you and actually add to rather than detract from the overall melody. Topping this off is a rhythm/lead guitar combination from Paul that actually bucks the trend for most vocalists/guitarists, in that he doesn’t take control of the overall sound and treats the band as an extension of his instrumentation!
[singlepic id=2 w=320 h=240 float=left]The gig itself was played to practically a full house in the Traf, in which Billy had had the foresight to move the tables out of the band room and into the green room, so for the first time in living memory, it actually felt like a gig in there and not someone playing at the top end of a furniture shop (now about moving that pool table out of there…). One thing that shows through is that, as intricate as these songs are, they are meant to be played live, but through a decent PA with a competent engineer as for the most part for the instrumental “post-rock” (a genre I know nothing about and had to be told what it meant!) passages, you need to be able to hear the individual instruments each playing their own lines, that’s not to say that what they play is indulgent noodling, but rather, an overall sound where all 4 (or 5 if you count the vocals) instruments contribute to the overall feel of the song.
Musically this is a band that has taken a variety of influences from the last 2 decades and managed to make disparate sounds somehow fit together. Last night I heard, amongst other things, old school goth, new wave, the late 80’s Manchester & Leeds sounds and (so I was told) the new post-rock style. It’s a very hard thing to explain in terms of what they sound like, but the closest I can get is an overall feel that The Bravery were a pastiche of, The Cult used to try to sound like around the time of Dreamtime & Love, The Sundays made commercialised and The Sisters Of Mercy had for a short while before they reinvented themselves as The Pet Shop Boys go to a funeral. Throw in some Mars Voltaesque time changes and that about sums things up (see what I mean!)
The only thing I can actually suggest is to go and see this band yourself as they defy description, but I can assure you that you will come away not unhappy and in these days of too many complaints about no gigs to go to and no venues to go see these non-existent gigs in, that can’t be a bad thing at all.