The Sun and The Moon + Bushhalf
Manchester Academy 3 – 18th December 2009
I just happen to be back in the UK at the right time, and it’s just a short(ish) drive over from my Mam’s to Manchester, so seeing a full electric Sun and the Moon gig is something that I just can’t miss.
The Sun and The Moon was the band that Mark Burgess & John Lever (of Chameleons fame) set up with Andy Whittaker and Andy Clegg (of Music for Aboriginies fame). They released 2 albums (which I haven’t got) and never really split up, doing a fair number of ad-hoc acoustic gigs over the years.
But first, we must deal with Bushhalf. Bushart is the new band featuring John Lever. They sort of double up as Chameleons cover band Second Skin, and have been known to do a few dates with Mark Burgess as Chameleons Vox. Tonight, it’s just Steven Foxcroft on a 12-string, with Ray on the bass and Jock on one of those drum-seat-box things. Not quite all of Bushart => Bushhalf.
We get treated to an all-too-short set of excellent songs that remind me at times of the Beatles, a cover of the Chameleons favourite Tears, some with just Steve on guitar, some with bass and percussion thrown in. I though Steve really managed to connect with the audience and got a lot of emotion across. 2 regrets: too short, and no merchandising stand at which to buy a CD.
As I understand it, full electric Sun & the Moon gigs are few and far between, so I’m quite surprised at the venue being only about ½ full (150 people?). But, it would seem that the gig has been picked up on the grapevine, was announced a bit late, and clashes with Depeche Mode, The Doves and The Charlatans. It is also a ball-numbingly cold night, and we’re all hoping that we don’t end up stranded due to a blizzard.
If you’ve heard The Chameleons (as I’d guess all of the crowd have), TSATM will sound familiar. Same voice, bass, drums, similar song structures. Yes, it has evolved, and yes it is different, owing to 2 quite different guitarists, but you could just imagine that the original Chameleons might have been a bit like this by album 5 or 6.
There are some really lovely songs – I particularly like Dolphins and Pictures of England, and some others, which I really ought to be more familiar with.
It seems to be quite a haphazard affair. The sound starts off OK, if a little loud, but seemed to degenerate when something happened to the sound of the bass drum. It got far too boomy and the sound engineer seemed to sort it out by turning the bass up, with the net effect that the subtly of the two Andy’s guitars was totally lost. I was very disappointed in the sound – I needed earplugs in just for comfort – that makes it louder than A Place To Bury Strangers (?!)
Overall though, a pretty stunning performance. And as a quick encore, we got treated to a rushed panic trying to find all the right people, and the full Chameleons Vox lineup performing Don’t Fall, as just a taster of what they still have in store. And the good old Chameleons buzz immediately takes both the crowd and the band into overdrive.
Yes please, I’ll have some more of that!
The Sun And The Moon: