wed 07/12/2022

The Bevis Frond, The Lexington review - stunning psychedelic rock | reviews, news & interviews

The Bevis Frond, The Lexington review - stunning psychedelic rock

The Bevis Frond, The Lexington review - stunning psychedelic rock

A landmark musical event with Nick Saloman and his trusted team

Nick Saloman looks unfazed by his chart statusFire Records

Very little points to anything specific. Parts of “Superseded” nod towards the 1968 Pretty Things’s track “Eagle’s Son”. Elsewhere in the set, a circular bass guitar figure is reminiscent of a motif from Spirit’s “1984”. But for a band so explicitly looking to rock’s psychedelic lineage, the influences are effortlessly subsumed into the whole to become mostly invisible foundations rather than noticeable elements of the superstructure.

This London show by Nick Saloman’s Bevis Frond is nominally to promote last year’s album, Little Eden. The encore is its final track “Dreams of Flying”. Nonetheless, unsurprisingly, vast foundations lie beneath this outing. Since 1987, before Little Eden, there were around 26 studio albums: a fair amount of them double sets. Though feet are firmly planted in the present, there’s an inescapable continuum. This is the 35th year of The Bevis Frond.

A show this immediate would potentially hit home anywhere, with any open-minded music fan

Including the one-song encore, two hours are played. There was a curfew at 11pm but it could have gone on longer – band and audience alike would have been happy. The whole time, there were no dips, no flab, no spare change. Saloman and Dave Pearce (drums), Paul Simmons (guitar) and Louis Comfort-Wiggett (bass – also in heavy psych-rock band Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell) are tight and when extended guitar solos crop up there’s also no surplus baggage. All very to the point.

Add to this proper songs with verses and choruses, and melodies too, and the result is astonishing. No wonder Evan Dando asked Saloman to guest with him at his Roundhouse show a few weeks ago. Nothing else is like this. The original idea for The Bevis Frond as a British hybrid of The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix and American punk-psych band Wipers has long been outpaced. All that pops into the head on odd occasions as a comparison are hints of Teenage Fanclub – “Flood Warning” and “Coming Round” could work in their hands. A fellow attendee wondered about an intermittent resemblance to the All Mod Cons/Setting Sons-era Jam. All briefly passed touchstones.

The closest it gets to classic riff rock is “Maybe”, where Saloman and Simmons solo at the same time – playing different, interweaving lines. Each knows what the other is about to do. Though it was from a proto-hard rock perspective, the effect is similar to what the short-lived Jeff Beck/Jimmy Page line-up of The Yardbirds could have done.

Obviously, it’s a form of record collector rock but the enthusiasm and directness with which this is delivered means knowledge of what might be drawn from is unnecessary. A show this immediate would potentially hit home anywhere, with any open-minded music fan.

Saloman himself was delighted by it all, revelling in what was created. Dave Pearce grinned. Comfort-Wiggett hit his strings particularly heavily, causing Saloman to crack up. There’s a true unaffectedness: while the band were getting ready to play, Saloman said hello to friends in the audience from the stage and did so during the set and afterwards too. He lamented that he now has to wear glasses. There was a digression on the derivation of the word “spinster”. He says Little Eden is the first Bevis Frond record to chart – at number 44. “It’s gone to my head”, he jokes. He's proud though. Towards the end of the set, he explains why he does this: “I love it. Sit down, write a song, play it”.

A stunning evening, and unexpectedly so. Nick Saloman is revealed as one of British rock’s great stylists. His trusted team are more than up to the job of being The Bevis Frond alongside him. Everyone here was lucky to experience a landmark musical event.

@MrKieronTyler

Comments

Cracking and extremely perceptive review – biased of course, as I'm one of those who think Nick Saloman's humility, intelligence, virtuosity, shiver-inducing melodies, big old wig-outs and exceptionally fine, empathy-filled lyrics make him a treasurable one of a kind. But beyond being chuffed to see this review, and its careful and wise observations of much more than just the playing, I'm so pleased you've put your finger on what makes Nick 'one of British rock's great stylists'. Hear hear from here! Thank you Keiron,

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