Photos (c) Paul Lippiatt
Seeing The Polyphonic Spree perform live is a life-affirming experience.
The floor was still remarkably empty as The Polyphonic Spree’s support act MT took to the stage. However the atmosphere inside the Trinity Centre, once the Holy Trinity Church, started to build slowly as this four-piece’s set took shape and the congregation began nodding their heads and tapping their pockets appreciatively.
Lead singer Michael Tomlinson later told that MT stands for ‘Many Things’. As their brilliantly flamboyant cameo was nearing its end they had managed to draw in a pretty sizeable crowd. Tomlinson’s stage presence resembles Eric Nally of Foxy Shazam. He was bouncing around from start to finish, all the time dressed in what looked like a sparkly bin-bag that showed off his wondrously Hank Hill-like behind.
MT had well and truly done their job in warming up the crowd, when a long bed sheet was draped across the stage in front of them. Either the sheet was an incredibly shoddy replacement for stage curtains (members of the band’s feet could be seen below the linen) or The Polyphonic Spree had something else in mind. They did not disappoint… letters were beginning to form from right to left across the sheet and the distinct smell of aerosol paint began to permeate the air. Initial bemusement turned into hilarity as Tim DeLaughter’s etchings became clear to the crowd: ‘BANKSY WHO?’. The cheek of it! Coming to our great city and insulting one of our favourite sons.
Immediately they redeemed themselves, opening with the utterly uplifting ‘Hold Me Now’ from the group’s second album ‘Together We’re Heavy’. What first hit home was the sheer volume this collective can generate. The place was buzzing now: DeLaughter and his rabble took full advantage. Throughout the night he echoed how truly blessed he felt that people turn up to watch him perform. A few songs in and everybody in the venue was won over. Live favourite ‘Running Away’ proved the deal-clincher for any remaining doubters in attendance.
Make no bones about it, going to a Polyphonic Spree gig leaves you feeling drained and that’s exactly how you should feel. DeLaughter’s boundless enthusiasm is such that he is able to reflect it on to his admiring herd of followers before him. The unwavering passion of the whole band however is infectious, from the trumpets and trombones at the rear to the pianist at the front of the stage.
‘Two Thousand Places’ was another highlight. DeLaughter’s delicately warbling voice really cuts through and by the end of the song the entire audience were bellowing out his lyrics in harmony.
A momentary move into the psychedelic was unexpected, leading to DeLaughter lying on the floor for what seemed like several minutes. He had not ‘done a Tommy Cooper’ however… He was quickly back to his feet before embarking on a foray into the crowd during the anthem that is ‘Soldier Girl’. This was the most memorable moment of the night: DeLaughter beckoning the entire audience to crouch down before leaping up with a crash of drums to that unforgettable chorus: cue rapturous scenes and a flurry of limbs, owing to DeLaughter’s frankly reckless but downright awe-inspiring antics.
The inevitable joy that came when 2003 classic ‘Light and Day’ was played still lingers vividly in the memory. It also signalled that their time was almost up. ‘When the Fool Becomes a King’ proved the closing number and how fitting that it would be. The fool had become king. DeLaughter’s unbridled optimism had touched everybody this evening, serving as a reminder of why live music itself is so great. Seeing The Polyphonic Spree perform live is a life-affirming experience: A live show to end all live shows.
Watch the euphoric ‘Light & Day’ here: