THE PICTUREBOOKS / SOFASONIC - The Horn, St Albans - 21.06.18

WILL HORSMAN

 

Having played a killer set at Stone Free festival less than a week ago, we’re at the legendary ‘Horn of Plenty’ in St Albans where The Picturebooks sadly had to cancel their gig this time last year due to illness. It’s a long time coming, but we’re finally able to put their attitude to the test – “We don’t care if we play to 5 people or 500, you paid to see a rock and roll show so we’re going to give you a rock and roll show!”

 

There’s only one support band for tonight’s gig, Hertford based indie/rock band SOFASONIC. The 5-piece play a collection of upbeat indie rock songs, all tinged with a hint of blues, reminiscent of some of the latter day Feeder tracks. They’re a really inoffensive, easy listen who seem really laid-back on-stage, taking each song in their stride. That’s possibly their downfall. It’s all a bit out of tune and the lead guitar is so deafeningly loud for the first few songs it’s difficult to tell if it’s deliberate or not. The lead vocalist has a good voice but seems to trip himself up on some of the slightly fiddlier riffs but the backing vocals from the bassist add a nice touch to the music. They leave the stage fairly bemused after announcing they have two songs left but are told by a mysterious figure off-stage that their set time is up. All in all it gets the evening off to a good start, albeit fairly uninspiring.
 

Sofasonic are:

Michael Wilson - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Niall Turner – Lead Guitar

SJ Manarin – Bass, Backing Vocals

Elliot Manarin - Drums
 

You can find them at:

Website : http://www.sofasonic.co.uk/

 

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, The Picturebooks in a small Hertfordshire pub, in front of around 30 people…

 

Starting the set with their trademark intro, guitarist Fynn Claus Grabke kicks things off with his trusty guitar slide, unconventionally grasped in his fingertips, almost strumming the neck of the guitar. Drummer Philipp Mirtschink then joins in with his earth trembling drum hits, getting faster and faster. Together they build the atmosphere, up and up, bigger and bigger. Philipp hits the snare with the palm of his fist with so much intent you wonder how he doesn’t break a finger, every night.

As set opener ‘PCH Diamond’ kicks in the whole crowd can’t help but nod their heads, except when everyone takes a minute to shake their heads at how mind blowing Philipp’s use of a Rocar is towards the end of the song. Absolutely scintillating stuff. Each song garners louder, more ecstatic applause from this crowd. If you didn’t look behind you, you would honestly assume this venue was packed to the rafters.

As they power through tonight’s set-list every single song is incredible, even only two albums deep you feel like these guys could release a greatest hits album. There’s not one dull song, everything is so different but all so awe-inspiring and powerful. The tempo and the feel of the songs fluctuates throughout the set but both musicians are so intrinsically linked to each other you would think they were the same person. It’s what I imagine living next to a steam train station is like, such visceral, raw sound that ebbs and flows as the train comes in and out of the station, building you up with just as much vigour as it then takes you back down.

Philipp occasionally pours water over himself and his drums in a bid to cool down and it creates the awesome effect of water flying off the drums as he hits them like his life depends on it. Although minimal, it just adds to the visual performance tonight, the lighting and smoke machine also make it feel like it’s a band headlining a festival, not just another Thursday night. They really do make a huge impact for just two guys.

 

Singer Fynn gives you an in-sight into their touring life, declaring his love for Jeremy Kyle with not much better to do when you’re sat in a Travelodge all day. This links almost poetically as he shouts ‘Zero Fucks Given’ across the audience which is met with by far the biggest cheer of the evening. It seems to have been left out of some of their recent festival appearances but is clearly a favourite among the fans tonight, the whole crowd screaming the chorus back at him. As Philipp tightens up his snare which has taken an absolute hammering, Fynn reminds us that these guys really are as DIY as it comes. With both band members being their own techs and Fynn’s Dad doing all their sound and lighting.

‘I Need That Ooo’ is dedicated to Fynn’s Dad tonight as he thanks him for all his hard work, recalling a time in the desert when they were filming a music video and his Dad was hit by a truck but despite a short trip to the hospital and a few broken bones he went straight back to getting the video done.

They close the set on ‘Your Kisses Burn Like Fire’ which ends with the most incredible audience sing along, even after the band have finished the whole crowd continue singing the chorus at the band, unrelenting. It’s a fitting end to the set, the crowd showing the guys just how brilliant they think they are.

 

After the set, they both take the time to chat to everyone from the merch stand and it seems like everyone wants to buy something tonight, getting vinyl and even skateboard decks signed, jumping at the chance to have their photo taken with the guys. It’s really great to see how much it means to both parties. After the dust had settled we managed to grab a beer with Fynn and really get an insight into just how two German bikers and their Dad can create such an impact across the country. The one thing that comes across the most is how they just can’t half-arse their set, ever. Every single gig is as important as the next to everyone in the crowd so they have to give them their monies worth.

Fynn commented on how much he has to thank his Dad for, saying he looks more like a keyboardist behind the mixing desk than a sound engineer – constantly working throughout the set to make sure that everything sounds perfect. His expertise is evident from the audience, the levels and sound quality are always spot-on, even when Fynn sings into his pick-ups or plays his guitar pedals like a synthesiser.
 

I’ve said it before but these guys really are destined for big things. When everyone in attendance tonight inevitably tells their friends about the gig, I fully expect it to be a sell-out when they return here in 2019 and, I for one will most certainly be buying a ticket!

 

The Picturebooks are:

Fynn Claus Grabke - Vocals, Guitar
Philipp Mirtschink - Drums

 

You can find them at:

Website : http://www.thepicturebooks.com/

Twitter : https://twitter.com/ThePicturebooks

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/ThePicturebooks

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