Society

Live Review | Polish Club, Barnsley | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Seven seems to be a pretty good number, even a lucky one to some, deadly to others.  There’s seven wonders of the ancient world, seven deadly sins, not to mention the magnificent seven of course.  Putting the brides and brothers, dwarfs and samurai and the hills of Rome aside for a moment, I must point out that Society only boasts three members, but they have seven most important ingredients; the guitar, the bass, the drums, three voices and one hell of a songwriter.  Tonight all those elements were present and in fine fettle despite the occasional confession from the stage, that their voices might just be slightly shot due to a couple of weeks of ‘belting it out’ at gigs between London and Oban.  Nevertheless, they sounded pretty good from where I was sitting.  Matt Wise, Ben Lancaster and F. Scott Kenny are a trio, whose sound is closer to the mighty Mississippi than the gentle winterbournes of West Sussex, yet they manage to create an authentic southern roots sound, complete with tight three part harmonies and a good deal of intuitive instrumental cohesion.  Performing songs from their debut album Songs from the Brickhouse (2010) as well as their recently released follow up A Crooked Mile (2011), Society blend together a multitude of influences from the British invasion bands of the 1960’s including The Kinks, The Who and The Small Faces to their American counterparts, most notably The Band, who Society most closely resemble, albeit with brand new songs courtesy of Matt Wise.  Matt shies away from any deliberate vocal comparison to Levon Helm, but visually he could easily pass for the drummer’s grandson.  Playing a couple sets of originals including their signature “Fool’s End”, the bluesy “Morning Star”, the soulful “Light of the Morning” and the funky “40 Days” to the jaw-dropping “Knives”, which reduced the room to complete silence, together with the one cover, the Jagger/Richards “Factory Girl” from the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet period, the band seemed to ignore the fact that the numbers were low tonight but it has to be said, it never for one moment felt like an opportunity for a live rehearsal or a band just going through the motions; the band actually played as if the room was bursting at the seams.  The validation of a great band has nothing to do with how much you enjoy a performance, nor has it anything to do with the amount of albums you can fill your shelves with.  It does however have everything to do with this burning desire to actually join them.  I wonder how long it would take BJ Cole to get me up to speed on the pedal steel?