The Nightingales, 20/5/16 The Cellar, Oxford
There aren’t many bands around with a more impressive musical CV than The Nightingales. Championed very much by legend John Peel way back in the 80’s, they worked with him many times, producing some of the most iconic Peel sessions of the era. Now unashamedly in their porky, unkept middle ages, the bands raison d’être hasn’t changed in thirty years, creating jagged and unpredictable compositions which still hold relevance and ooze originality. With a post punk spirit, combining a traditional punky and punchy rhythm section with irregular and uncertain guitar parts and song structure, The Nightingales continue to push the envelope and last year produced yet another impressive offering Mind Over Matter, their first studio album in almost a decade.
Whereas many bands of The Nightingales era become increasingly watered down and anodyne, the new music they produce is just as provoking, surreal and powerful and their live sound also hasn’t suffered through the sands of time. Joe Strummer once stated that a band is only as good as it’s drummer and this has never rang truer with Fliss Kitson almost stealing the show with miraculously definite and intricate drum work while also providing backing vocals and with sturdy bass hooks, The Nightingales have a solid backdrop which allows Andreas Schmid to have free reign with jangly, syncopated guitar parts and Robert Lloyd to effortlessly spill his politicised and stinging vocal parts.
The Nightingales ability to seamlessly change tempo and tone midway through a song is testament to a band who want to keep their audience engaged and their hour long set was unrelenting with literally no breaks between songs to grab so much as a swig of beer. Their propensity for lengthy avant-garde, unorthodox guitar solos and breakdowns are obscure but refreshing and are a sign that the members are locked in with one another and highlights the experience The Nightingales have performing and their desire to maintain a vibrant sound which belongs solely to them.
The Nightingales may just be one of the British music scenes best kept secret and judging from their performance and recent material, they still have the ability to maintain individuality and the cult following they have amassed. May they keep chirping their irregular and atonal tune for years to come.