Flight Brigade @ Notting Hill Arts Club
Hampshire-raised septet Flight Brigade chose the intimate Notting Hill Art Club’s Nova presents…..Over & Over live music night to host the release party for their new EP Stealing Fire. Offering delicious cupcakes to those first through the door, the band ignited the party atmosphere at the packed famous west London venue on Wednesday evening.
Formed in 2010, the folk/rock collective comprises a mixture of family and childhood friends. Lead singer Ollie Baines is married to Miriam who supports her husband with stunning harmonies. Miriam’s sister Dorry Macaulay, who is a classically trained musician, exerts a special energy on vocals and violin. The remaining four members Tom Clay (bass), Thomas Pink (guitar), Neil Blandford (drums), and Jonny Barker (keyboard) help to fill the trendy basement venue’s stage snuggly.
The talented group of musicians’ first four-track EP Graduation Day was released in 2013 and support spots with Dry the River, Stornaway and King Charles have followed.
Their new EP Stealing Fire promises to raise the bar even higher. Released on the 23rd October to coincide with a 16-date UK autumn tour, the EP features four eclectic tracks When We Were Young, The Phantom, Housefire, and Our Friends Our Enemies which were mixed by Donald Clark (The Knife, Muse) and Brian Virtue (30 Seconds to Mars, Jane’s Addiction).
The slot at Over & Over is the last gig of the tour before the EP release and the band are joined by friends to support the special moment. Ollie kicks off the 6-song set with old favourite 39 Steps, which creates an instant buzz before enthusing the crowd by declaring that “Wednesday’s are the best day for gigs!”
The band then treat us to stand-out track Housefire from the new EP, which exerts a heavier rock influence than their earlier offerings. Dancing around the stage, the girls’ vocal softens with feminine harmonies, whilst Dorry heightens the track’s intensity with her talents on violin.
Before launching into the new single, Ollie thanks the crowd for joining the band at their EP launch show and then introduces The Phantom. The future disco anthem differs in style from the other tracks, but maintains the same blend of eccentricity that makes the band so unique. A sure pleaser, the synth-pop tune has everyone in the venue bopping around.
The new single When We Were Young takes the crowd from bop to bounce, showing off the fun side of the close-knit group, whilst maintaining their signature sound. A powerful chorus sees Ollie blasting out “giving it soul” from the tiny stage. BBC Radio 2’s Janice Long has described them as ‘astonishing’ and featured When We Were Young as one of her Janice Loves tracks earlier this month.
Baines announces the penultimate song, You Kill Me, as “something brand new and a world premiere!” A live first, the song delves into the difficulties of Crystal Meth addiction before concluding with a transcending instrumental from Dorry.
The band close their set with Our Friends Our Enemies, a new track about the bravery of World War II factory workers in Europe who sabotaged bomb detonators so they wouldn’t go off. Starting off with radio recordings from the era whirring from the speakers, the crowd are transported back in time before returning forward to the present day with a spirited and energetic finale. Chants for “one more” are inevitable, and so the party continued.
The band are simply great to watch live. Their blend of musical tastes and styles come together to create an electric mix sitting somewhere between alternative folk and hard rock. These passionate performances earned them no less than 16 festival slots this summer, including Bestival and playing three stages at Glastonbury. The band’s debut album, with tracks co-produced by Gavin Monaghan (Editors, Kings of Leon) will be out in early 2016. The future is very bright for the extremely talented Flight Brigade.
Flight Brigade play various UK venues between now and the end of November 2015.
Interview with the band by Lauren Patel to follow shortly.
Review by Lauren Patel and Photography by Kalpesh Patel. Flight Brigade at Notting Hill Arts Club 21st October 2015. Kalpesh has his great Flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate