Kingsbury Manx / Howie Beck : Brighton Pavilion Theatre

Kingsbury Manx, feels like being catastrphically drunk on a cross channel ferry with the Beta Band...

Quiet might be the new loud, but it’s unlikely wet will [I]ever[/I] be the new cool. Howie Beck announces that another song is about his ex-girlfriend, and vainly attempts to prove that he is more than just another songwriter with a Christian name and a surname. Not for the first time in his life, one suspects, he’s on to a bit of a loser.

Like a lot of nice guys, Howie is not exactly at the front of the pack. He’s got a lot of very nice songs like ‘Maybe I Belong’, and being from Canada he has that amusing accent which means he tells you what most of them are “aboot”. The only real problem with Howie is that it’s an unoriginally broken heart he wears on his tracksuit sleeve, and his politeness from the stage is only matched by the politeness of his songs.

Not a problem facing Chapel Hill’s Kingsbury Manx. The group apparently found it difficult to find a name for themselves, which isn’t really surprising, because it’s nearly impossible to find a name for what it is they’re doing. What it feels like, though, is being catastrophically drunk on a cross channel ferry with the The Beta Band.

It’s certainly diverting. The uncanny resemblance of one of the guitarists to Niles Crane is just one of the images to flash past in the whole slightly disconcerting performance, but among the chaos of prog rock, harmonies and Byrdsian psychedelia, there are certainly moments of beauty. Sad. Mad. Probably, given the nature of this sort of thing, all quite personable to know.

John Robinson