Stealing Sheep, Wrexham, 08/06/12 15

Stealing Sheep, Wrexham, 08/06/12

Stealing Sheep 26They’ve certainly been paying their dues these girls, touring enough that they must be a fixture in motorway services up and down the land by now. We last saw Stealing Sheep on home turf in their native Liverpool, where to be honest, and with all grace, they stole the show from headliners Sea Of Bees. They’re still out on the road as I speak, and will shortly be popping over to Europe for dates in Slovakia and Belgium before returning to play festivals here – Port Elliott, Standon Calling, Green Man and that new one at Portmeirion – Festival No. 6.

Tonight saw them in Wrexham where local promoter Ross Roberts is doing a fine job of getting an altogether better class of act to Central Station. Tonight saw four bands on the bill, a leg of the Line Of Best Fit tour, and if it’s a mark of quality, some well established local musicians in the audience.

First up are Baby Brave And The Love Bites – all jangly sixties doo-wop influenced, complete with synchronised hand jives. As is often the case there was a sense that the guys in the engine room were slightly old(er) pros compared to the girls up front.

Jake Mattison was of the solo, almost protest folk persuasion, getting a lot out his fat bodied acoustic, but not really doing enough to stand out here tonight.

Simian Ghost are from Gävle, Sweden, a land of enchanted summers and long dark winters. I know, I’ve spent time there. Given their hometown’s position betwixt the woods and the Baltic, it was funny that the note I made before I knew any of this was “surf-infused-euro-pop”. Despite minor annoyances with a computer that didn’t like anyone standing on its bit of the stage, it was an impressive short set, the highlight being the magic trick build and topple of vocal loops.

Stealing Sheep had been out on the floor to watch the rest of the line-up, not a bad idea seeing as bands have been added and subtracted at different venues, meaning that if say, we’d gone to Oxford instead, we would have had Pale Seas on the support bill. No matter, tonight the three girls knew their place, which was very definitely as the headliners; and they acted with according confidence, a sense of knowing this is their time.

We are eagerly awaiting their first proper album. They have a record of sorts out, ‘Noah And The Paper Moon’, but as they explained to me after their recent Liverpool gig, this is more like an amalgamation of various recordings to date. It’s maybe indicative that only a couple off tonight’s set list are off that record. They’ve got a new single out too, ‘Shut Eye’, which must therefore be an indication of which way the ‘proper’ long-player is going to go. That set list in the photo, scrawled on a sweetie shop brown paper bag, must also hold some clues to the track names.

What they play, and what is still there in full force in the new single tends to get called psych-folk. I won’t disagree, but the folk it’s channelling is very English, somewhere between a village green procession and a madrigal. It’s all there in the chanting vocals, but possibly the biggest boost to their unique sound is that percussionist Lucy Mercer stands in a line abreast with the other two. It pushes the almost military beat that comes out her floor-toms right up there into the the very front of the mix, a prime component rather than merely being a metronomic engine room. It adds to a mesmeric mix.

They’re heady to watch, and it’s thrilling to see them coming so clearly into their own. After an eternity of support slots, I guess that’s what a successful headline tour is going to do for you, but it’s heartening nonetheless.

When I had that very quick chat after the Liverpool date, I kind of got the idea that they were saying their older material is more folk-acoustic, and that was confusing me slightly, as I didn’t detect any diving into avante-garde noise electro, or anything of that ilk tonight. Maybe they’re just referring to the fact that Becky’s twin keyboards can control a hefty dose of sub-bass if ever they need it and there’s more reliance on programming, less on school orchestra instruments . Certainly Emily made use of enough shakers and rattles, in amongst the intricate picking on the electric guitar, to satisfy the traditionalists.

There was plenty of audience enthusiasm coming through. I found myself crowded up alongside the girls from Baby Brave, up to the slightly awkward non-encore where I think they firmly intended to come back out but left it a moment too long; the moment was lost and the lights went up. Despite this, there was still good feeling all round, a bit of an instant mini after-party. One of the nice things about the Central is that you don’t get chased out 5 minutes after the set, there’s time to chat, and there was plenty of that, plenty of post-mortem of what people had just seen and heard, and every bit of it excited and enthusiastic.



Stealing Sheep Setlist Wrexham


Jake Mattison

Baby Brave And The Love Bites

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.