The Peppermint Club | Los Angeles, CA | December 7, 2017 | Photo Credit: Kristen Coveleskie
“I’ve made a schoolboy error.” Pete Lawrie-Winfield admitted midway through the set. “I forgot to put a microphone at the keyboard.”
A minor logistical lapse easily rectified and even more easily forgiven considering the circumstance: that circumstance being this was Los Angeles-by-way-of-Cardiff, Wales Until The Ribbon Breaks’ return to the art of live performing after a 4 year absence. And so, under the roof of one of Los Angeles’ newest, shiny and – depending upon the eve – more exclusive pieces of live music real estate (the Peppermint Club), Winfield and Elliot Wall (along with two additional band members) went about the business of reminding a full and anticipatory room of ears what was so damned appealing about them in the first place, even before they’d released their first full length album, A Lesson Unlearnt, in 2015: that heady marriage of melody and beats with deep blue human emotion.
The set was a brief one (began at 8:38pm, ended at 9:05pm) and that’s perfectly understandable as I went in knowing the night would consist solely of new music from their upcoming self-titled album (due out in Feb 2018) no matter how many times someone in the room shouted for “Romeo.”
It was tentative and testing, but focused: if there was an excess of nerves on the stage, it didn’t show …other than the microphone thing.
And since UTRB were about to immerse us in foreign material, they jumped us off with the less foreign in the form of their latest single, “My Love”; a song unusually immediate and the most romantically open-faced that we’ve heard from them. It would be difficult to argue against the lyrical shift being a direct byproduct of Lawrie’s newfound sobriety because every song presented felt less like exercises in downbeat hip-hop shouldering the weight of the world and more like leaner, elegant musical meditations of self-examination. And while songs “Black and White” and “Push & Pull” eased into one another, both had an urgency closer to UTRB’s past, yet still leaned forward in the same way that “Here Comes The Feeling” is a brighter sonic palette despite its subject matter.
Conversation was kept to appreciation and gratitude for the waiting, for being in the room; also understandable, but having seen UTRB at various LA shows and South By Southwest, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Wall so animated, so enjoying the work. Yes, these guys can still make you feel the cinematic aspect of sound, as well as make you crack open your dictionary app in order to find out what the hell they’re referring to, because as Lawrie went in on the lyrics, “I feel it all / I feel it all / I feel it all, again” in “Petrichor,” it seemed an internal switch had flipped that caught Lawrie somewhere between emotionally electrified and physically grounded to the earth. And if any point of the show felt like I was intruding in on a moment between the artist and the art/the singer and the song, that was it.
So while I’m looking forward to hearing all of these songs in recorded form, in general, I care to hear “Petrichor” in particular.
Of course, it would be a party foul if a UTRB show failed to include Lawrie giving his lungs an extra workout: fear not such a thing as we were gifted a trumpet solo intermission and a horn outro during the full-bodied, mellow “Meru.”
Welcome back, gentlemen.
SET LIST: “My Love” / “Black and White” / Push & Pull” / “Here Comes The Feeling” / “Meru” / “One Match” / Petrichor” / “Count The Lightning”