Fields: Mercury Lounge, New York; Monday October 23, 2006
When these folky shoegazers are playing, who cares about The Bluetones?
It’s a weird one. Just over 10 years ago The Bluetones were Top Of The Pops regulars and made Number One albums; they were mop-topped Britpop royalty. Now, though, they play deserted Monday night slots at New York’s 150-ish capacity Mercury Lounge in front of audiences more excited to see the support band. Or at least they’re supposed to: pulling out at the last moment, they leave Anglo-Icelandic indie-rock types Fields playing to a half-full room comprised of label bigwigs and a handful of dedicated fanatics who’ve sought out the band’s ‘4 From The Village’ EP on import and clearly spun the fucker to death.
Still, Fields don’t look like they mind the attention. Blonde keyboardist Thorunn Antonia, less-blond singer Nick Peill and three other nice-seeming blokes doomed to spend the rest of their career standing in soft focus at the back of photographs burst through their irresistible swirl of indie bombast and burbling electronics eagerly. Debut single ‘Song For The Fields’ prompts bassist Matty – a former hairdresser famous among the barber community for inventing the Blochead – to jump up and down on the spot with excitement.
Befitting a band who recently gave away homemade mix CDs at gigs that featured British folk legends Pentangle – and indeed a band that call themselves Fields – they have a healthy seam of off-kilter pastoralism running through their music. So the likes of ‘Feathers’ start as Wicker Man-type madrigals with Thorunn and Nick’s voices winding themselves around each other before being ruptured by sheets of shoegazing noise. It’s a good trick, balancing guitars heavy enough to headbang to – which at least two New Yorkers in the crowd tonight are doing – with melodies that won’t sound out of place on Radio 2. But Fields’ real charm lies in the way that they don’t fit in with anything else around at the moment – their big, Celtic-sounding indie rock is the kind of thing that made Snow Patrol famous, so don’t expect a Klaxons remix to drop any time soon. Rather, it’s the kind of music that would sit well on the main stage at the V Festival. So when they’re daytime radio staples or soundtracking adverts for cars, and you’re pretending that you never liked Fields, remember how much you enjoyed them while it was safe to.