Nine Black Alps @ The Camden Barfly

a quick biog

Nine Black Alps is a band comprised of four enigmatic twenty-something (going on seventeen) year olds from Manchester brought together by their mutual love of music, who sadly require an introduction because chances are that they’re too shy to do it themselves.
They’ve been around for about a year now and are signed to Island. (They were snapped up by an enthused Island Records A&R man a couple of shows into them having begun playing as a band together.) The band as we know it (otherwise made up of the three ex-Chelsea Girls) began when Martin Cohen came their way and “completed them”. Or rather Martin’s guitar and bass, The other band members include David who is bass and guitar (and a pedantic pedal junkie), James is the drums/backing vocals and the (recent Sophie-Ellis-Bexter-looking-from-the-mumps) Sam is main vocals/songwriter/other guitar (he’s all better now).

the gig

Having arrived about an hour early for the gig at the Camden Barfly (mainly to ensure that there was no chance of being sober when the set began) there was plenty of time for drinking and catching up on our rock literature in the form of The Fly, which just so happened to coincidentally include NBA on the front cover. Time passes by and the 20:00 start advertised on the ticket flutters past without a thought’s notice. Sam digresses that they’re not scheduled on until 9:30, which leads us to conclude that this was a cheap ploy by the venue to get us to buy more drinks, which turns out to be extremely effective.

At around nine-ish The Former Bullies (that are compromised from the two-man-band buddies of NBA) trawl through their set and the room upstairs promptly fills up. There really is not much that can be said about these two; they were OK but nothing special. They were perhaps not the best choice of warm up bands for NBA but we’ll forgive them this time around because NBA did not disappoint.
Needless to say, everything runs smoothly and as per the norm from the kick off the back half of the beaming crowd look on in awe through the front half who inadvertently cause the floor to rumble with enthusiastic appreciation through pretty much the whole set. The list, much to every head banger present’s delight included their three singles Cosmopolitan (the debut), Shot Down and Not Everyone (with its very own video with a cameo performance from a Spiderman look alike).

Despite the permanent lack of a stage present (que the Kurt Cobain comparisons), the stage invasion began around three quarters of the way into the typically too short half hour set. The overdelighted members of the crowd who made it up onto the stage were met by the bemused musicians and an angry bodyguard who was if anything, a little too enthusiastic about pushing them back off. The whole room by this point was filled with ecstatic faces and as the set drew to a close the buzz surrounding them didn’t stop.

Their set list finally also now includes the, what can only be described as incredible (would-be noveau grunge anthem if they released it as a single like they should’ve) Ilana Song. The Ilana Song is one of the two fantastic b-sides to their recent single Shot Down and has been long overdue for a live comeback. The Ilana Song epitomises why Sam and his Alps are so quintessentially good in every sense of the words. The Ilana Song is simply too understated, it’s aptly puzzlingly named and is a great tune with poetic lyrics that seem to have the potential to mean a lot while explaining very little and leaving you with a thirst for that little bit more.

some other stuff

Some things we learnt from that night were; that James (the drums) sings too, that Sam doesn’t like seeing his pictures in magazines (he drew over his face on a fan’s issue of The Fly) and that “Tesco’s stock managers get paid more than bands”. (We’re not too sure about the last one either.)

the sales pitch

Everything Is; their ecletic mix of rock tracked debut album (entering the charts at number 25) does not do them the justice it should have, but regardlessly is still bloody fantastic and is out now for purchasing at any good record store near you. Some must hears include Unsatisfied, Just Friends and Cosmopolitan for those of you who didn’t have a record player when it came out on single. Recognise the album itself by the painting that looks like a bunny with a cigarette in its mouth high up in the clouds thank-you David’s flatmate Matt Davies.

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