Live Review: Field Music at DC9, Washington DC – 24th March 2016

By on Monday, 28th March 2016 at 2:00 pm

It’s been a while since Sunderland’s Field Music have descended on my hometown. During their last visit – to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in Northeast nearly 6 years ago – I was in Philadelphia for this show. And while I did catch younger Brewis brother David’s solo project School of Language in Manchester in 2014, any fan of any Brewis-related music venture will tell you it just isn’t the same at all. So I was truly grateful we’d been included in the tour. Folks drove from as far as Alabama and Georgia in the Deep South to come up to this southernmost of the East Coast dates: talk about dedicated fans! That speaks to the quality of Field Music’s songwriting, that they’re worth the travel effort.

DC was the first of eight live dates for the band spread out over a fortnight in America, which included four shows each on either coast of our great nation. On this American tour, the brothers Peter and David are joined by Liz Corney (synths and backing vocals) and Andrew Lowther (bass guitar). Doing shows with a reduced lineup, compared to the much larger collective they can bring along when playing in the UK, has presented unique challenges for Field Music in the live arena, though except for a few errant mishaps that had nothing to do with their musicianship, there was little to fault in their show last Thursday night. Peter cited the unseasonably warm for March weather for causing him to lose his grip on one of his drumsticks due to sweaty palms, and the stage patter eventually de-evolved into a hilarious discussion with the crowd that if Field Music ever had the misfortune of playing in DC in July, he would not only lose his handle on his drumsticks but also lose his trousers (sorry, you had to have been there).

Peter Brewis of Field Music at DC9, Washington DC, 24 March 2016

From their atypical time signatures to almost always doing the unexpected, the brothers’ musical sensibilities have always been unique. Their music caught the ears of Prince late last year, leading to speculation that the Purple One has been watching arguably the best purveyors of North East funk all along. Indeed, ‘Commontime’, their latest album released last month on Memphis Industries, is a bracing, welcome cure for the winter doldrums, thanks to well-placed bass notes and their songs’ inherent catchiness. Naturally, given the timing of this tour, the set list Thursday night was heavy on ‘Commontime’ tracks, beginning confidently with the strident yet oh so infectious ’The Noisy Days Are Over’. Seriously, when was the last time you’ve heard such a joyous song about getting to middle age?

Longtime fans were rewarded with songs further back in the Field Music catalogue, including ‘If Only the Moon Were Up’ (introduced by David as “this is the first song on the first album…”) and ‘A House is Not a Home’ from 2007’s ‘Tones of Town’. Their 2010 two-disc album, colloquially known as ‘Measure’, also received a prominent acknowledgement when standout tracks ‘Them That Do Nothing’, ‘Let’s Write a Book’ and ‘Effortlessly’ received a rapturous reception from the audience.

David Brewis of Field Music at DC9, Washington DC, 24 March 2016

However, I keep going back to the newer, funkiest tunes still playing on repeat in my head. The herky-jerky ‘I’m Glad’ was a revelation live, because it’s exactly the kind of head-bopping song you’ll never hear on top 40 radio. Similarly, ‘(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing’, the band’s encore from their 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated LP ‘Plumb’, is the kind of thing you could be break out into randomly at work: you’d elicit strange looks but honestly, who cares? It was too crowded at DC9 to do so, but in addition to singing along loudly to it, I had a Four Tops-esque dance routine all organised for ‘Disappointed’, and it never happened. Someday…

God bless Field Music.

By the time of this review’s posting, local DC band The Effects will have supported Field Music on all four of their East Coast dates of this American tour (DC, Philadelphia [25 March], New York [26 March] and Boston [27 March]) before the West Coast leg of Field Music’s tour begins.

After the cut: Field Music’s set list.

David Brewis of Field Music at DC9, Washington DC, 24 March 2016 2

Field Music Set List:
The Noisy Days Are Over
I’m Glad
Let’s Write a Book
Don’t You Want to Know What’s Wrong?
A House is Not a Home
It’s a Good Thing
Who’ll Pay the Bills
Them That Do Nothing
If Only the Moon Were Up
How Many More Times?
Just Like Everyone Else
Stay Awake
(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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