A few precious words about Precious Few

Having gone to see Marble Sounds twice, I remembered fondly the time when Precious Few played support for them.  I recently had the opportunity to witness a wonderful set by Precious Few again and want to recommend them warmly to you again. They tour a lot in Germany but you might also catch them supporting bands like Desperate Journalist, The Wedding Present or – like last autumn – Precious Few’s Barbara joining Downpilot at some concerts. So keep your eyes peeled abroad as well if you are into music that is bittersweet and tender, perfectly written and rendered. 

When I attended their gig last month, the timing could not have gone more wrong. Rememberance day, St. Martin (a lantern parade for kids) and the start of Carnival and the most gruesome weather out of all days on a Sunday evening all coincided, so the attendance at the concert was sparse. What a shame, because co-organiser Hugh Featherstone delivered a fine support set and a lively introduction to the band as well as an interview with them.

Barbara has an amazing voice (still, despite the cold she suffered from) and this seemingly easily soaring voice fits the melancholic, very personal songs perfectly. Just accompanied by Chris on guitar is the usual setup even though you won’t miss the drums and bass at all – it is somehow all there in Chris’ guitar playing. Once in a while, Barbara picks up a melodica (yep) and that instrument fits into their music so very well, accentuates the lightness in the shade, the shrugging off the burdens of life. I cannot put it any better: You feel at home in Precious Few’s songs and as touching most of them are, them being so personal and intense, they are delivered in a perfect pop and indie pop way that – despite not on the happy clappy side – makes you feel comforted and lifted. Chanson? Maybe. 

A few precious words about Precious Few

That night, the duo were joined by Paolo who added blues harmonica and would you believe it, it counterpoints Precious Few’ music amazingly. 

So, catch Precious Few if you can at a live performance and/or listen in for example here and here:  

The Chills: Gig review, Cologne 2016

Martin Phillipps kindly gave me an interview ahead of The Chills‘ only gig in Germany, May 30th, Gebäude 9 in Cologne. Read all about it here. So what was the gig like? It was everything you would expect and then some more!

Arriving fairly early, as the The Chills were billed for 8pm with no support act and a virtual apocalyptic downpour making driving a bit, true to form, “Underwater Wasteland”, it was all quiet in the yard outside the venue. Hey people, did you not hear The Chills calling or the grapevine?

Eventually it turned out the rather large venue was almost sold out, and old and new fans in unison celebrated the return of The Chills. The Chills have actually never been away, only out of sight for us being far away from New Zealand. Those who wondered that the “new” Chills sounded such a matured band must be aware that this particular line-up has been in place for a long time – we were just not aware of it.

The Chills
© photo credit – Kevin Burns

Fire Records made it possible for us to hear and see The Chills again by supporting an album and a tour. Nothing like a label that loves music and for who that music is top priority beyond other criteria such as sales, image, market research…(and many major labels go so wrong there as do radio stations and indeed tv stations: They assume the worst taste in the consumer or a lack of intelligence in the consumer and then that is what the consumer gets, who meanwhile thinks that this is what is out there and nothing else…wrong way round then).

In the end, the quality of Martin Phillipps songwriting, both musically and lyrically and the sheer brilliance of his bandmates could never fail to last. This way you had old fans being enthralled by new songs and new fans getting to know older songs. Songs of all ages sat comfortably next to each other but the stakes had been raised: The new songs were not made to sound retro. Instead the old songs are sometimes being looked at for what they are – fine pieces of music. Picked were those songs that have aged very well.

We got a tight set, no holds barred, with a hard-working band who was clearly enjoying the performance. I was particularly impressed by multi-instrumentalist Erica Scally and the wildest drummer I have seen in a while, Todd Knudsen.

The Chills
© photo credit – Kevin Burns

Old favourites were rendered generously and fabulously – the new songs from the “Silver Bullets” album could have been from a Best Of collection. Martin sang intensely and oh wow, the sound of that Gretsch had me transfixed.

After a show of maybe one and a half hours and some encores, all the band did not take their deserved rest but were right out to meet the fans and sign endless copies of albums and merchandise.

What can I say but DO take the opportunity to see them at their remaining concerts in Paris, Barcelona, London and Liverpool for this is a rare opportunity and the experience you will have is due to a band being experienced to pull your heartstrings, not strategically but because they are real through and through.

Thank you to The Chills, thank you to Alice Gros of Fire Records, one of the truly dedicated people, also of course Scott Muir (The Chills management) and enjoy the rest of the tour.