A sombre requiem of cello and violin announces the arrival of The Miserable Rich…
The crowd prays silence, as strings are met by electric guitar, double bass and vocals.
In true spirit of their latest album ‘Miss you in the days’ (Recorded at Blickling Hall – apparently Britain’s most haunted stately home) an ethereal presence surrounds this quintet of unorthodox Brighton-based musicians who have now materialised upon the stage of the Deaf Institute – an unusually fitting venue if not for anything more than the name.
The Miserable Rich’s self-proclaimed brand of ‘Fiery Chamber Pop‘ does its best to invoke the spirits of the deceased in a concert inspired by sex, death and ghosts and in many ways, it succeeds.
Following the band’s opening track, ‘Imperial Lines’, we are rushed in to ‘Laid up in Lavender’ – a jaunty Danse Macabre that smacks of Duke Special, conjuring images of Victorian ladies of the night and of course that most notorious of villains, Jack the Ripper.
We are treated to another record taken from their latest album as the mood shifts to demonstrate a darker more introspective side to the Miserable Rich. The next few songs carry on in this tradition and in the process loses some of the audiences interest.
Lead singer James De Malplaquet remains unfazed and charming as ever, exchanging banter, telling anecdotal stories and playing to the audience’s egos, claiming the Deaf Institute is probably the best music venue of its kind in the country.
As we meet the midway point of the performance the band play Chestnut Sunday a delicate autumnal aria that provides a light and refreshing shift from the previous darker vein of the set list.
The second half of the gig draws upon songs that mark a completely different tone, taking influence from Americana. One can’t help but be reminded of The National and Wilco as a fiddle daintily picks its way through Lighthouse, a haunting folk tale. This is immediately followed by an achingly beautiful and yet amusing cover of Edie Brickell’s Ghost of a Dog.
Their swan song, Ringing the Changes, enraptures the audience as a keyboard rhythmically accompanies De Malplaquet’s vocals in this gentle yet mysterious waltz of the dead.
As we’re treated to an encore consisting of predominantly early songs, the Miserable Rich join the audience on the dance floor claiming that they’re not allowed to perform on stage after 10:30 – a nice excuse that creates an intimate affair allowing them to play some ‘crowd pleasers’ taken from their earlier two albums, ‘Twelve ways to count’ and ‘Of flight and fury’.
With their intrinsically British sense of style and marrying of musical influences it’s difficult not to like The Miserable Rich.
This is the third time this particular journo has seen them in concert and wherein previous manifestations they have had to take to the stage and command the audiences respect through bravado and showmanship, in their latest incarnation they seemed, as did the rest of the audience, to thoroughly enjoy their metaphorical flight into the world of phantasmagoria.