REVIEW: Behind the Settee, Susie’s Bar at RSC’s The Other Place

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Behind the Settee

Karl Walker reviews Behind The Settee, Susie’s Bar @ The Other Place, 4th July

The welcoming environs of Susie’s Bar played host to Rugby based alt-pop band, the creepily monikered Behind The Settee who turn out to be not nearly as sinister as their name suggests. Downright friendly in fact, if truth be told, and definite contenders for happiest band in town.
With their endearing smiles and carefree vibe they easily won over the Susie’s Bar audience and cemented an impression of a talented bunch with a good number of cracking tunes who you’d gladly have a pint or two with, to boot. Bucketloads of easygoing charm and chirpy banter were in ample evidence and proved a winning combination when the set was disrupted by minor tuning issues or the occasional mistake; when bassist
Mike started a song in the wrong key and the tune ground to a halt, there was a little chuckle of admonishment fromhis bandmates with contagious grinning all round, before the song resumed back on track.
The image of BTS is a real mishmash and this is reflected in the disparate range of influences which can be detected in the songs. The dreadlocked, hippyish Mike contrasts wildly with the ‘American college’ look of keyboardist Jack, stylishly
coiffured, Hollywood smile and Hawaiian shirted, while guitarist and singer Jo sits somewhere between the two, rocking the more familiar indie/ folk attire of the acoustic singer songwriter. It’s a fashion fusion that seeps into the sound
of the band itself where indie rock and pop mix it up with dollops of country, spooky folk and captivating vocal harmonies, bringing to mind a weird but intriguing image of Sheryl Crow being asked to jam out some ideas with the local folk club
after listening to a mixtape of The Cranberries, The Smiths and Dolly Parton. And downing a healthy round of beers!
Thus, we were served a fairly routine blast through The Cranberries’ Zombie and a more interesting, slowed down take onĀ  Jolene, but it was the originals that were the real jewels on offer where 3-way harmonies intertwined to give a real sparkle to songs such as the finger picked, lullaby groove of Three Wishes, and the lovely winding melody of Red Handed, a great stripped back (but powerful) version of which is on their website in the ‘Tunnel Sessions’ section. Check it out.
Melodies and hooks are definitely the order of the day with BTS and even the less immediate numbers keep a trick or two up their sleeve to snag you along. If there’s any negatives to mention it’s only that they can lack a bit of an ‘edge’ and
the confrontational stance of the sadly missed Dolores O’Riordan for instance, is not really where they’re at. Still, small quibbles. Focus instead on the tantalizing musicality, the in-band fashion warfare (Hawaiian shirts and dreads could be the
truce), and the ramblingly charming onstage banter and you’ll not go far wrong.
An unexpected but entertaining close to the show was the coincidental, but perfectly timed, pre-recorded theatre announcement to ‘Please Switch Off Mobile Telephones’, piped into the bar at the exact point the last song concluded, prompting a final grin in keeping with the rest of the evening.

Karl Walker