As a homeless woman stole my friend’s pale ale right out of her hand and ran off giggling outside of Stoke Newington’s the Three Crowns, it wasn’t a great start to the night.
Having included Cymbals in my January gig listings for Artefact, I’d been looking forward to seeing them for a while.
The first time I came across the Londoners was through a friend, who sent me arguably their best piece of work The Natural World.
With two albums already under their belts, packed with early-Foals plucking and synth pushing, the foursome should have been prepared for a difficult third.
But The Age of Fracture, released in 2014, hit the spot. With ’80s influences running boldly through it, the band still seemed to be having fun, but with a little more skill and maturity.
Down the stairs at The Three Crowns is home to The Waiting Room, a bathroom-tiled and wooden-panelled underground shack, where support acts pack up their own equipment after their set and walk back through the crowd. It’s a wonderfully intimate affair.
I only managed to catch the end of Cymbals’ support Sylk; but from the four minutes I heard, I would like to see more of them. With a charismatic female vocalist and her band of baggy-t-shirt-wearing boys, their sound was intriguing.
The soundcheck was long and Cymbals appeared to be quite a mismatch; which initially I liked.
After a few intense seconds of eye contact with lead singer Jack Cleverly it was clear – and not only to me – that he seemed rather intoxicated.
But his charisma was infectious and Winter ’98 (sung in French) and You Are, both from the new album, brought the room alive.
It was between tracks, as the frontman breathed heavily and made strange sounds with his mouth into the microphone, that there was a collective feeling of discomfort; it was only a Tuesday after all.
The band felt quite disjointed, almost as if the bassist and drummer were new to the line-up, and there was a lack of collective onstage chemistry.
Despite the glitter-covered singer being quite a handful, he seemed to be the one keeping the band fresh and afloat.
Photo courtesy of: Sean Carpenter