Tilly and the Wall @ ULU, 25 October 2008

Monday, 3 November 2008, 17:11 | Category : Uncategorized
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Things have changed in the world of Tilly and the Wall. The last time I saw them was back at the first End of the Road festival in September 2006, and I look back to then and the previous months with some nostalgia. Fun times, watching the Omaha quintet all over the place at a time before the the Baby Growl arrived to change our lives forever. Perhaps it was fitting that this was the first time Mrs Growl and I have been at a gig together since our lives were changed.

Then again, things haven’t changed that much. There’s still the dayglo exuberance (surely in parallel universe, most of the band would be children’s TV presenters). There are still the highly infectious tunes. And of course there’s the tap-dancing. The things that have changed are exactly what caused the problems tonight. If had to review this gig in less than 10 words, they would be: GET RID OF THE BASS PLAYER.

There are two extra members in T&TW now – a bass player and a drummer. They’re touring their new album (is it really called ‘O’ just because there’s a circle on the cover?) which is another fine addition to the Tilly canon. But from the start of this gig there’s a problem. The new beefed-up bass sound swamps almost everything else. Now I know that there’s an issue of bad sound mixing, and it does get a bit better as the gig progresses, but generally, the sound of Tilly cranking it up is just not fitting. Their songs are shiny pop nuggets that don’t benefit from The Rock.

Then there’s the vocals. What seems so sweet and harmonious on record is often strained and tuneless as the various singers shout out their parts. Now, I’m not talking about guitarist Derek Pressnall here – he can’t sing for toffee and should never be allowed to do so – it’s the girls that I expect more from. Particularly on a shocking cover of Erasure’s A Little Respect, which could have been so much better. But ultimately, I guess I should just relax a little. I suppose you don’t go to see Tilly and the Wall for a highly competent, slick performance, you go for FUN. And Fun was had. New songs were played. Old songs are played to much cheer. And there are smiles on faces, particularly during The Freest Man, Reckless and cracking new single Beat Control. So all in, a bit of a mixed bag of an evening. Still, I can highly recommend the new album, which comes with all tonight’s creases ironed out.

mp3: Tilly and the Wall - Tall Tall Grass
mp3: Tilly and the Wall - Sing Songs Along

Tilly and the Wall myspace / website

Buy O and other T&TW releases from Rough Trade or emusic.

5 Comments for “Tilly and the Wall @ ULU, 25 October 2008”

  1. 1uppi17

    You've got it spot on there. The last two times I've seen Tilly the bass has been way too high, causing the girls to strain themselves trying to be heard.

    The song that brought it home to me was the one they did for an encore. It started off with only the two singers & a guitar - sounded great. Then as more people joined in it got worse and worse.

    The weird thing was everyone else seemed to be enjoying it.

  2. 2jessicajlee

    Exactly - even at their instore at pure groove last month, it was generally disappointing for those reasons. Ugh. With all the noise and yelling of lyrics, it just doesn’t sound as fun or carefree anymore.

  3. 3The Daily Growl

    Glad I’m not the only one. The quieter moments were definitely the best. I groaned when the bass player came back on stage.

  4. 4Tim

    I agree with some of your points.
    - Bass was definitely too loud and with added drums, vocals were often straining to be heard.
    - I can’t stand Derek’s vocals either.
    - They’ve lost a bit of their magic since I last saw them.

    BUT I still really enjoyed the show.

    What did you think of Slow Club?

  5. 5The Daily Growl

    I agree with all of your points, especially the last one. The first time I saw them at the Buffalo Bar back in Feb 06 will remain in my mind as one of my most magical gig experiences of recent years. I think I’ll always compare their performances to that, and they’ll never be as amazing.

    That said, I did still enjoy the ULU gig in places. The Freest Man, Beat Control and some of the quiter moments were all fantastic. Just like you say, the same magic isn’t there.

    Oh, and by the way, I missed some of Slow Club’s set, but I liked what I saw and heard.

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