Head South for quality

Review by Jack Foley

WHEN South confirmed that they would be interested in playing a one-off gig in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) two months ago, no one could have dared imagine just how successful the concert would be. On Friday night (April 19, 2002), we found out and the result was very special.

The gig was the brainchild of Simon Pinion (a lifelong friend of mine and Indielondon member) and had been put together as a means of further raising the profile of the charity he had trekked through Jordan on behalf of last year.

Simon had approached Mowax (South's record label) in February in the hope of being put in touch with one of his favourite bands, they duly passed on his details and the rest, as they say, is history.

After weeks of tireless promotional work (trying to establish contact with the likes of Time Out, NME, XfM, etc), and flyering at every available opportunity (at venues across London), it all came down to one night and boy was it worth the effort.

South - comprised of Joel Cadbury, Jamie McDonald and Brett Shaw - were supported by DJ sets from UNKLE's James Lavelle and Rich File, plus Popscene veterans Rob Lord and Paul White, and all were in scintillating form.

The evening began at 7.30pm with a few choice cuts from the Popscene boys, before they handed over to Lavelle for his hour-long set - including Three Is The Magic Number (by Bob Dorough) and Say No Go (De La Soul) - which really got the crowd going. By the time South came on at 10pm, the venue was buzzing and had a really good vibe.

The band opened with a pumped-up version of Broken Head I, the beat-driven instrumental track which opens their debut album From Here On In, and then spent the next hour and 15 minutes producing a concert which, in the words of one of their own entourage, 'was one of the best they have ever played'.

One of South's undisputed strengths is their musical diversity - they can all play a variety of instruments and aren't afraid to swap throughout the night. Hence, lead guitarist Jamie could also be found as lead vocalist at certain points, as well as playing the drums later on, while Joel seldom had the same guitar in his hands for more than two tracks at a time - his use of slide on I Know What You're Like, in particular, sent a shiver down the spine.

But in truth, it was difficult to pick out favourite moments, as every song sounded special. Tracks such as the Stone Roses-inspired Paint The Silence or the terrifically moody Recovered Now represented the band at their most rocky and really got the crowd going, before giving way to quieter, more intimate numbers such as the sublime Here On In (my favourite to be taken from the album) and the slow-building, acoustic driven Live Between The Lines (Back Again). The latter tracks, in particular, drew a terrific response from the crowd, who contributed to a great atmosphere.

When Joel reminded people of what the night represented - a chance to raise vital funds for the TCT - he was greeted with another great cheer, while his thanks to Simon Pinion and the TCT for giving them the chance to return to the capital for the first time since their successful US tour with Elbow went down equally well.

South are due to release a new five-track EP in June/July, entitled Nothing Personal, and the two tracks they played from it, including Estimation, were equally impressive (both thoughtful and reflective), while their final number, a cover of UNKLE's remix of Ian Brown's Dolphins Were Monkeys, really raised the roof.

It was easy to tell that the gig meant a lot to South and they were determined not to disappoint. As such, their enthusiasm and energy was infectious; while their talent may just have reached a wider audience. The chief executive of the TCT, in particular, said he would be rushing out to buy their album the next day based on the strength of the evening - we suggest you do the same and make sure to catch them the next time they tour the capital.

SPECIAL NOTE: Indielondon would like to say a special thank you to South (including John Brice, Jack and Hans), UNKLE (including Jody), Rob Lord and Paul White, everyone at The Teenage Cancer Trust, Graham Nash (ULU), Mowax, Marc Ashdown (BBC LDN), Paul Anderson and Jim Benner (XfM), Dan Cox, Tom O'Riordan, Paul Jennings, Anand Patel, Declan McAndrew, Tim Minor, Richard May and Sarah, Lucy and Toni (you know who you are!) for the help they provided in making the evening a success.

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Simon Pinion's trek through Jordan. Click here to read his diary...
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South - From Here On In CD review. Click here...