31st Jan 2008
Ruby Lounge, Manchester
This penchant for twinkly guitars and rustic charm has seemed to come about rather suddenly and although Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit might on the surface seem to fit in with this genre a closer inspection suggests a greater depth than a new fad.
Firstly the duel vocals of brother and sister provide harmonies and beatific noises as various other members of the band chip in when they feel like it. Their multi-talented front man picks up various instruments (as do the band) and there is no smugness or feeling of trying to impress with the range of their skill.
One of the most superb things about this folk-steeped band is the lyrics; wonderfully angelic voices wrap themselves around the words which evoke different worlds and forgotten people. Beginning the show with “The Box” with its twangy guitar and almost Deep South feel a focus is brought on a homeless man whilst rural fables come to life in the magic “Leftovers”. Their evocative music is deeper than trend or fashion; it extends to the audience, holding them in its grip and literally begging for an encore.
It’s poignant and bluesy with more than enough heart and soul. There is religious imagery mixed with tales of the homeless mixed with tales of love; a rare thing for a set to have so much depth but whilst also holding interest for every song!
A loyal fan base gather on the floor of the Ruby Lounge and a strange feeling occurs, people flop down onto the floor, sitting and nodding adoringly along with every song. Rather than making the whole thing seem lethargic and boring this almost school-like approach to watching the band (legs crossed and eyes turned upwards) seems fitting. Everyone is still moving (one man goes so far as to slap his thigh along with the beat. The look would only have been completed with a piece of hay coming out of his mouth and a floppy straw hat!) And Flynn’s bashful presence is appreciated with applause and cheers.
As the band run through their set it is clear to see they are not only skilful musicians but also destined for success. With their sound reminiscent of Adam Green or even blues/rock’n’roll virtuoso Robert Johnston their lyrics and music intermingle creating poetry alongside sound. A truly great live band with an menagerie of instruments and talent!
(reviewed for High Voltage)
Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit - Leftovers
Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit- Oh, To Eat An Apple
Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit- The Box