Meursault Tour Review

[I often think I don’t really talk enough about how much I like Meursault. It’s tricky on these pages, because everyone knows my relationship with the band, particularly as the first real ‘signing’, as it were, to Song, by Toad Records.  Also, as they are doing pretty well for themselves without my help, I sometimes just leave them to get on with it by themselves.

To help address this particular omission Cogstar, one of my most enduring readers, has written this review from seeing the lads twice on their recent UK tour.  Thanks old chap!]

Meursault vs Meersalt

Before I turn into ‘Fanboy’ it’s only fair I declare my self interest. I’m a punter, pure and simple with no side projects and my only long term investment has been time and liver damage. The good thing about music unlike football is you can change your team at any time, I learned this lesson particularly early in life, having declared ‘Signing Off’ to be the best album ever written, definitely no long term investment there. Since then I’ve pretty much decided to live in the Northern Counties lower division of the music world, enjoying the outputs of everyone from Jesse Garon to God is an Astronaut.

Listening to recorded music is fine, but I much prefer to be at the front of a live gig, not knowing which way the nights going to go. For at least 25 years I must have averaged a gig a week and now having two teenage girls, one ‘pop punk’ and one ‘pop and folk’ I’m up to about 200 gigs a year if you include festivals. I’ve seen Girls Aloud four times ffs. A nod to the wise – it’s absolutely essential to be at the front for this type of gig.

Having read in many places the difficulties of earning a crust in the industry, I’m very pleased to have made the decision to live exclusively in Punterland. There have been weak moments where I’ve nearly jumped the fence, but fear of losing my enthusiasm by being on the inside has saved me.

And with scene setting complete, the point of this contribution

I’ve never seen a band play essentially the same set list on two different nights of a tour which was so fantastic and yet so completely different

I saw Meursault live for the first time at Glastonbury this year and despite ‘being absolutely fried’ after a nightmare journey, they were one of the few bands I saw over the weekend where everyone played at full tilt.

With typical over enthusiasm I’d convinced three pals that The Royal Park Cellars in Leeds was the only place to be on a wet Thursday night. For those that don’t know it, it’s an old local’s pub which now resides in the dead centre of student town central. I remembered it from the 80’s when Sunday lunch was £3.00, it’s gone up to £4.25 now. It was a bit of a dive in the old days and I couldn’t wait to see the state of the cellar. Just as advertised it was a cellar, painted black with customary silver pipe work and comfortably large enough to swing two cats but probably not safely.

There were plenty of seats and tables about and as everyone else was seated we took a pew 10 minutes before kick off. Quite why one individual decided it was appropriate to stand at the front, alone and two yards in front of everyone else I’m not sure, as my pal said, ‘he’d make a better door than a window’. From the first solo acoustic tune it was clear that the sound quality in the dodgy cellar was exceptional. Meursault played as a three piece with two lead guitarists and a drummer and an electric box of tricks. It was a unique combination.

Every song was tuneful, clear, well sang and to suit the environment had a laid back feel. My older non muso pal enthused about the fact you could here all the instruments and all the words, I should have brought my dad along. The set lasted about 40 minutes with one new tune and an amps off, ‘One Day This’ll All Be Fields’ to finish. We would have all been happy with another 40 minutes.

And so to the Saki Bar in Manchester 5 days later, this time I’m with a proper muso pal who’s been brought up on Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine and a diet of Brixton Fridge techno. He’d never heard Meursault, but trusted my taste, I think he was sold on the box of tricks and stories of effects pedals. The Saki bar is a bit ‘rum’ as my Gran would say and Tuesday night is ‘Underachievers Night’ quite how Meursault had been switched to a full on indie bar on indie night when Broken Records were playing round the corner I’m not sure.

At about 11.20pm (on a school night), the band eventually took to the floor and after a 10 minute set up were ready to play. Crank Resolutions kicked in…. all except for the vocal microphone, the slightest eye contact between band members and it was clear that nothing was getting in the way tonight. For half the song Neil half sang half yelled the words, thankfully the soundman salvaged things with a double mic switch. It seemed like a Ramones style 2 second pause before going straight into the new tune, which sounded absolutely nothing like it had at the previous gig. Meursault had turned punk and the urgency of the hammered snare drove the tune along at a frightening pace. It was utterly brilliant, even the old blokes (me included) had started shuffle dancing and head banging….really.

I only recall one acoustic song in the main set tonight and even this was forced out with intent as Neils’ voice felt the strain from earlier. Back to electrics, the guitars clashed perfectly and the clamorous no bass rhythm section worked on every tune. I’ve no idea whether William Henry Miller was played acoustic or electric but it felt hard.

Respite came as Fields was sung amongst and with the audience, most of whom were sporting a stupid grin on their face. And just when the people were on the pitch it was back for another go at Crank Resolutions ‘make it really loud please soundman’ was the phrase. Best tune I’ve seen live in ages.

If you get a chance to see the stripped back punk threesome on this tour, then take it.

But as my feedback loving friend pointed out ‘bloody hell wait till they do that with the full band’.

Best £3 I’ve ever spent ….thanks

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