The Like - Flowerpot, London
London's Flowerpot is my favourite intimate venue in the capital. Situated between Camden Town and Kentish Town stations the bar offers live music seven days a week with no entrance fee. Now that's always a bargain but more so when you have LA quartet The Like performing a "secret' show as a warm up to their appearance at Reading Festival at the end of the week.
The band have undergone a line up and image change since 2005's Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? , with original members Elizabeth "Z" Berg and Tennessee Thomas recruiting Annie Monroe on organ and Laena Geronimo on bass. The girls have recently unveiled their sophomore album Release Me Stateside, with its arrival imminent in the UK. In my mind it's one of the most instant albums of the year, with the band's take on 60s power pop winning me over from the off so I was more than willing to brave torrential rain to catch their Flowerpot set.
It had been a while since I'd seen the band play, last viewing them around the time of their debut album on a Sunday afternoon at London's Barfly and having heard that they'd despatched with the songs from that era I knew I was in for a Release Me heavy set. The foursome opened with "Catch Me If You Can". The audience were welcoming but a bit reticent to come closer to the stage, with Z asking them to "Come further forward, come hang out with us we don't bite!" This did the trick, with a decent selection of the bar's population crowding round the girls to hear the new material.
The Like certainly belted album number two's songs out in quick succession, with "He's Not A Boy", "Release Me", "Walk of Shame" and "Narcissus in a Red Dress" all played with barely a second to breathe before the next song."Fair game"'s keyboard ending lick brought the set to a brief rest.
As this was a Reading warm up I imagined them taking to the Festival stage with the mantra of "We're going to play as many songs as we can in a short space of time whether you like it or not!" firmly in their minds! The songs themselves were played at their natural speed so there were plenty on offer to enjoy, with the front three looking fairly mean and moody while Tennessee smiled her her way through the set at the back. Things were hotting up with the appearance of album opener "Wishing He Was Dead", the highlight of my evening as I love the jerky nature of the verses, the song's killer chorus and Z's deliciously evil final line. I was enjoying the band's live renditions of the new songs as much as their recorded versions and things continued down this road when a formidable breakneck take on "Trouble in Paradise" popped up in the set. After Z gave a brief commercial for the new album and Reading appearance the band offered up album closer "Don't Make a Sound". It's a slow song compared to the rest of the album but there was a lot of power behind the live performance, making it a set stand out.
The Like closed their Flowerpot appearance with Z telling the crowd "Thanks you guys for coming out on this horrible night to hang out with us, I had a really great time!". The band struck up the chords to Release Me's "secret" track, a cover of the Isley Brothers "Why When the Love is Gone", giving selected members of the now extremly appreciative audience a chance to have a bit of a dance to the uptempo number. The girls ended their song and tried to make their way back to the dressing room but the crammed crowd were having none of it, sending them back to the stage, with Z saying "You just made it to hard to get to the back of the room!", with Z and her gals delivering another cover in the shape of the Rolling Stones "Let's Spend the Night Together".
The new line up are a great live combo so it's disappointing that I won't catch their festival performances. The band are playing several dates in the UK next month though so there's a chance I'll watch them again soon.