Review and Photography by John Bentley
With its quirky small club atmosphere and friendliness, Hebden Bridge’s Trades Club is rapidly becoming one of my all-time favourite live music venues. Over four days they’ve been hosting ‘A Heavenly Weekend in Hebden Bridge’, featuring artists on that label. Saturday night features Brighton psych rockers Toy and up-and-coming shoegazey dreamers Britain.
Britain are synth player and singer Katie Drew and guitarist Joey Cobb. They deliver a short and well-received set of whispered, ethereal songs, which nod heavily towards the Cocteau Twins, particularly Cobb’s chiming guitar.
Toy released their third album, ‘Clear Shot’, in 2016, featuring new keyboard player Max Oscarnold from The Proper Ornaments, replacing Alejandra Diez, whose distinctive keyboard work helped define Toy’s original sound. The influences on ‘Clear Shot’ seem a little different, including Morricone-like film music, folk and pop, with less of the distinctive krautrock / motorik / driving riffs element that marked-out the first two albums. Toy clearly want to develop their sound rather than stagnate. Tonight’s set features large helpings of the new album and classics from the first two.
There’s no doubting Toy’s attraction as a live band, providing a thrilling guitar-fest with a difference. They start off with two offerings from ‘Clear Shot’, including the wonderfully melodic ‘I’m Still Believing’, which is instant classic Toy. ‘Koptor’, from the debut album, follows, to the obvious delight of fans. There’s a great atmosphere throughout – the packed-out hall is hot and sweaty, it’s loud and the disorientating flashing strobes alternately light the band then cast them in silhouette.
It’s clear from the reception that the extended workouts like ‘Koptor’, along with ‘Motoring’ and ‘Dead and Gone’ from the earlier albums, are popular features of live shows as far as the fans are concerned. And the band obviously enjoy playing them too, with bass player Maxim Barron and guitarist Dominic O’Dair heads-down and freaking out around singer, Tom Dougall. Drummer Charlie Salvidge is hidden away behind the guitarists on the small stage.
The hour and half set is peppered with an intelligent, fan-friendly, mix of old and new songs, ending on another extended wig-out in the form of the title track from the second album, ‘Join the Dots’. The band don’t say much, they don’t need to. They leave the stage with an appreciative wave and no encore. Seamlessly, the ‘Heavenly Jukebox Till Late’ kicks in and the punters leave or stay for the disco.
A great evening, but with hindsight I should also have attended some of the other great offerings over the weekend, which included Temples, Duke Garwood and Hooton Tennis Club.
I’m Still Believing
Fall Out of Love
Clouds That Cover the Sun
Heart Skips a Beat
Dead and Gone
Join the Dots