24th September | Fleece
Photos: Jessica Bartolini
“Our manager made us go off the road for six months earlier this year,” says Alex Cameron early on in his set. “He said if we didn’t stop touring for a bit, people would stop wanting to come and see us.” Judging by the audience at the sold-out Fleece, Bristol isn’t close to growing tired of him and his band yet.
There’s always been a certain level of showmanship to Alex Cameron’s live performances that make them so special. His appearance – slicked-back hair, tinted glasses and a vest paired with an open shirt – and the way he struts around the stage give off the feel of a washed-up lounge singer. It’s the type of character that pops up frequently in his songs, from the has-been TV star in ‘The Comeback’ to the sleazy father figure in ‘Stepdad’. After many years of touring, it’s a role that he’s perfected.
The set leans heavily on material from his excellent new album, Miami Memory. The songs feature an old-school 80s vibe, complete with glitzy keyboards and Springsteen-like guitar licks, which compliment his on-stage persona well. As great as they sound on the album, tracks like ‘Far From Born Again’ and ‘Other Ladies’ shine even more live.
Early on in the show, it becomes clear that most of the audience know the new songs, word by word, already. It’s particularly amusing hearing everyone sing along on the raunchy chorus of ‘Miami Memory’ (“Eating your ass like an oyster,/ The way you came like a tsunami”). It’s hard to think of anyone else penning a song with those lyrics, let alone managing to get a roomful of people to sing them.
Older songs go down equally well: ‘Stranger’s Kiss’ is a huge standout. A bitter duet sung with Angel Olsen on the studio version, guitarist Lilah Larson fills in her part perfectly during the show. Equally great is ‘Happy Ending’, which is capped off by a fantastic saxophone solo from Roy Molloy.
Anyone who’s caught Alex Cameron live before will be familiar with Molloy, his self-professed ‘business partner’. Throughout the show, audience members shout out his name between songs, which he normally responds to with a timid wave. In addition to his saxophone playing adding an extra 80s sheen to each of the songs, he’s also responsible for one of the night’s most hilarious moments.
Halfway through the set, Cameron invites Molloy to review the stool he was given to sit on during the show by the venue – a regular segment in their performances. After assessing its sturdiness, stackability and butt feel, he awards it three-and-a-half stars out of five, much to the audience’s delight.
Closing out the show with the compellingly catchy ‘Runnin’ Outta Luck’, the band get the audience singing along one last time. “If you keep coming, we’ll keep coming back,” Cameron says, before they dive into the song. After tonight, there’s no doubt that everyone in the room will be back again next time Cameron and his band swing by Bristol.
See the video for ‘Divorce’ here: