They’re a rum bunch, all right, The Nightingales. Led by the irrepressible Robert Lloyd, and first championed by the late indie hero, DJ John Peel, they are, as with the best bands, almost impossible to pin down. Post-punk is too reductive a term, as they’re far more ambitious. To call them a garage band doesn’t do them justice either, because the songwriting has focus and many sharp, wilfully experimental angles. And alternative is too quaint, surely in 2018.
Tonight, they are on magnificently malevolent form, in their shiny showbiz blazers, playing most of the material from new album Perish The Thought with barely a pause for breath between songs. Squint at times, and it could be Krautrock, along with jagged interludes featuring a dizzy array of tempo changes reminiscent of The Fall, Sonic Youth and even Bogshed. Sock-melting guitar solos from James Smith give way to playfulness, almost nursery rhyme taunts.
Lloyd’s a cappella moment completely implodes when he forgets the words, and it’s utterly endearing, watching him fight back a fit of the giggles.
What is most wonderful about this musical head-on collision of genres though, is the cheeky interplay between a pugnacious, hilariously deadpan Lloyd and superb drummer Fliss Kitson. Her creamy, swooping vocals are a lovely counterpoint to Lloyd’s wild exorcist howls and yelps, and her ferocious tribal drumming bounces like Tigger during a particularly choppy Company Man.
The caustic lyrics spat out in Big Dave, Enemy Of Promise and British Luck are surely the perfect antidote to our troubled, Brexit era Britain. The Nightingales, for about an hour, make a small but appreciative crowd smile at the inherent ridiculousness of modern life.
They are at once utterly timeless; and very much of the zeitgeist. Oppositional, defiant, and extremely loud: in short, just what is needed to chase off the autumn gloom. Shits on Sheeran.