The Orielles (Slight Return) - The Social, London, 20th July, 2021
As I have written elsewhere on this site, The Great Escape festival in Brighton has cost me a lot of money over the years…every year, there are more bands we want to see again, new records to be bought by thrilling up and coming groups and artists. The Orielles are another honourable mention in this growing list.
The trio emerged from Halifax and by the time we’d seen them in Brighton in 2018, they had already released their debut album, Silver Dollar Moment. By then, their youngest member had just turned 18…so much promise! Their sound was jangly, resolutely indie (they would not sound out of place with the C86 brigade in the 80s). Indeed sisters Sidonie and Esme (Drums and Bass/Vocals) are the children of a member of indie nearly made it band, Train Set. They are clearly influenced by Orange Juice – jangly indie, assimilated with soul and funk. Henry, their teenage guitar player, hit a cowbell a la Bernard from New Order. It’s wonderful stuff though I feel VERY old…
Fast forward to 2021 – since that first gig, they have released a second album, Disco Volador, a more expansive affair, taking more cues from artists like Talking Heads, Stereolab, A Certain Ratio…
The album was swiftly followed in lockdown by La Vita Olistica – Sidonie and Esme decided rather than ropey live streamed gigs, instead they would direct their own short film, soundtracked by reworked tracks from Disco Volador, performed as one continuous score.
So, with that rather long backdrop, here I am, the day after “freedom day” heading to my second post-lockdown gig. The Orielles are playing the opening night at The Social.
I am nervous – double jabbed as I may be, the relaxation of the rules feels premature and people are letting their guard down way too soon. They are ignoring the danger from new variants of COVID. But despite this, I decide to go to the gig. I am desperate to see music and am incredibly careful.
I meet my friend Mr L, and it’s lovely to see him - our last face to face encounter was in the bar at Supergrass at Ally Pally in March 2020, my second to last gig before lockdown.
We drink beer, discuss vinyl, discuss record shelves (we literally define the edge of rock and roll man…). It’s fabulous and life feels normal. I really want to hug him but we stick to the rules, even if they have been dropped.
We head down for the gig and it’s amazing. The launch into Come Down on Jupiter, sounding like Pink Floyd gone indie - by the end of the first song, the sweat is dripping off the ceiling over the stage. Where we are is cool (fabulous aircon) and feels safe.
They are tight and euphoric - they are SO pleased to play, and have clearly been out in the sun - Henry has red arms and t-shirt sunburn, which is hilarious.
Six songs in disaster strikes. I am pinged by the NHS app - I have been in contact with someone with COVID. Do I cheekily ignore it and stay? The damage is done I tell myself.
But in seconds I know I can’t. I work with the NHS and we have to support the heroes who look after us every day. So I leave immediately. I want to cry. My friend and I socially distanced wave goodbye, my pint is abandoned, and I head out with as little contact as is possible.
Heading home, I console myself that six songs is better than none. And they were six GREAT songs! And my contact was 10 days ago so it was not caused by being at the gig. I have tested myself before and it was fine. This is a precaution. But caution and consideration are essential now.
So I head home, masked and avoiding everyone, cancelling plans for the next few days. But it’s one step closer to normality. God bless the NHS, God bless The Orielles and do the right thing - get the f*** out of a gig when you are pinged, with the least interaction you can, test yourself and stay isolated until the app says you can go out again.
And dance your ass off to The Orielles while you wait! Slight return is better than no return! Stay safe, x