Live Review: Cherbourg’s EP launch at Borderline, London


Cherbourg’s EP launch party packed Borderline to the brim with friends, family and fans. FFS turned up on its tod and ended up chatting to fellow gig-goers, all of whom were connected to the band in some way: Chris Maas’s schoolfriend, Cherbourg’s manager’s housemates and Cherbourg frontman Andrew Davie’s mum, leaving us wondering whether any of the revellers  had paid to attend. 

Those who checked out the support acts’ online presences before the show will have been pleasantly surprised when they saw the first support in the flesh. The Ryan O’Reilly Band’s MySpace does not do them justice. The two songs that are available on it are clearly good, but they’re rough recordings sans band, which show nothing of the electricity of the live performance.

Ryan’s upbeat Americana/Country is at times reminiscent of a less-petulant Ryan Adams, and his vocals give the occasional nod to Tom Waits. His band played an eight-song set, which included favourites Elizabeth, Nightmares – with its awesome piano solo played by Brad Thomas – and November with it’s self-effacing lines: “You’ll never change your words with your songs and your guitar/There’s people half your age and they’re going twice as far,” which ironically, is one of his best. 

Next up is fellow Southerners Jesse Quinn and the Mets. Quinn, who has recently been moonlighting as Keane’s bassist, tonight makes use of his contacts to enlist Noah and the Whale’s fiddle player Tom Hobden and Keane’s drummer Richard Hughes. The performance was somewhat lost on this reviewer, Quinn admitted that the band hadn’t played together in seven months and had only had an hour’s practice. But the set, and announcement of the two ‘special’ members of the Mets, were greeted with rapturous applause from the crowd.

Cherbourg’s headline set was as glorious as the buzz in the room had led us to hope. Fellow folkies Jay Jay Pistolet and Alan Pownall were there to provide moral support and the new addition of a dapperly dressed multi-instrumentalist provided some additional meatiness with keyboard and trumpet. The opener of the nine-track set, Man, saw laid back vocals juxtaposed with an urgent violin staccato. In the first 20 minutes Cherbourg showcased newer material, which suggested that if an album isn’t already in the pipeline it will be soon.  

Although the queue outside had ensured that Borderline was filled with their most fanatic of fans – as well as the band’s aforementioned nearest and dearest – the performance’s only disappointment came at their hands. The quiet loveliness of The Mill’s opening section was marred by chatting in the audience, who seemed to have forgotten the reason for this love-in. Bassist Kevin Jones’s glares at the offending pockets of the crowd were accompanied by drummer Chris Maas teased hi-hat, which sounded rather fittingly like shushing.

Final song was fan favourite Never Love Again, the opening track on the EP the band were here to promote The Last Chapter of Dreaming. As the song breaks into a raucous hoe-down the four members of Cherbourg break into wide grins and indie-boy dancing. This is a band who are really enjoying themselves and the fun is infectious.

Words: Lynn Roberts