Money - Hare and Hounds, Birmingham
The second album from Manchester's Money, Suicide Songs, confidently walks the line between hope and despair. And tonight, with band standing by, lead singer Jamie Lee starts the show mounting the stage alone to perform a new acoustic song in similarly confident style, the emotional honesty that forms the basis of the band’s work is laid bare from the get-go.
As the band take time to find their places, another of the night’s tones is set. Lee makes self-depreciating, warmly received, comment about professionalism but there’s little conversation or exposition. Stage presence is key: palpably, Lee occasionally performs on the stage’s edge to further lay bare this emotional honesty; less palpably, his and the album’s difficult background preconfigure an intimacy between band and audience for songs – which have speak for themselves – to build on.
Included is a two-part string section of cello and violin (somewhat enchanting in a pub venue) that plaintively backdrops ‘You Look Like a Sad Painting’’s ebbs and flows. ‘Hopeless World’’s Beach House dream pop backdrop delivers the sweet to sometimes bitter lyrics, before the more hopeful ‘I’ll Be the Night’ with its uplifting chorus. Stage presence only goes so far, Lee hits remarkable notes in ‘Night Came’, and loses himself like Thom Yorke pulling in the audience during ‘I Am the Lord’.
The audience are emotionally but not spatially pulled in. Greta Caroll from support act Bernard + Edith works overtime, no less than physically encouraging all to move towards the stage; detachment between audience and stage being a recurring overly polite arrangement for Hare and Hounds.
The venue maintains its reputation for sound quality with some problems. Lee introduces the palliative ‘Suicide Song’ with “I always f––k this one up, so let’s see how it goes.” It doesn’t go well as the song is soon interrupted, Lee sighing: “Especially as I have a broken lead.” A lead that now crackles louder than ever, followed by the audience laughing louder than ever, both in playful response.
Lee’s on a roll. The final song ‘A Cocaine Christmas and an Alcoholic’s New Year’ is introduced with more, now planned, comic timing: “It’s a festive one [reciprocal laughter] – with a twist.” It’s a brave ending, clearly articulating a corporeal sadness lacking time for The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’’s easy romanticism. But the live ending’s more rousing arrangement, together with earlier guidance from Greta Carroll and a broken lead, means the show’s balance of hope and despair, soberly, treads the right path.