Timber Timbre – Bitterzoet – 18.04.2011

It was all about effects this evening. Between the very impressive one-woman-band Little Scream in support (more below) and the three-man Timber Timbre, the stage was awash with effects pedals of all sorts. I hadn’t been so impressed with Timber Timbre’s album but thought I might enjoy the music more if I heard it performed live. I was disappointed; so much so that we left about two thirds the way through. (This isn’t something I’d usually do, even at a gig I’m not enjoying, but with Nadine just into her 2nd trimester there was an additional reason not to bother seeing it through to the end.)

I was satisfied to leave early as nothing I’d heard up to then suggested that there was anything surprising or unexpected yet to come. It became hard to distinguish between the 60 bpm, 4/4 time, four-chord sequences with a vocal melody that never really does much. I kind of like the sound of the vocals on the album – somewhere between Nick Cave and Randy Newman – but the spacey reverb effect that’s used was really annoying live. It just sounded so artificial. I’m sure he has a good voice, but all I could hear was effect.

So, although there were plenty of head-nodding enthusiasts in a packed Bitterzoet, this wasn’t up my alley I’m afraid. Which is why I’m very happy we got there in time for the support act, Little Scream, about whom I knew nothing before. I now know she’s a Canadian chanteuse who puts on an imaginative and entertaining solo show. She said she normally tours with a seven piece band and has to try to recreate the sound using a bank of effects and loop pedals, plus her guitar and keyboard (which fell on the pedals mid-way through a later song!).

In an Andrew Bird-like manner she records short vocal or instrumental loops and then brings them back in as harmonies or counter-melodies later in the songs. Her vocals are really strong, with her own voice coming through loud and clear despite the harmony effects and her swooping and looping around two vocal mics. The songs were interesting both lyrically and melodically and she strikes a good balance between catchy melodic sections and jumps into contrasting heavier more rhythmic bits. A bit like the Fiery Furnaces now that I think about it. I’ll definitely be checking out her album….whereas Timber Timbre might join that virtual pile of “thought I’d like it but didn’t” albums.

(P.S. Yet again an Amsterdam audience showed little respect to the support act by chattering more and more loudly as her set went on. Perhaps, as Nadine said, it’s a rite of passage for touring acts, but I really don’t recall audiences being this noisy anywhere other than Amsterdam.)