fri 20/09/2019

Pram, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review - a fine hometown return for the psychedelic oddballs | reviews, news & interviews

Pram, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review - a fine hometown return for the psychedelic oddballs

Pram, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review - a fine hometown return for the psychedelic oddballs

A Theremin-powered weird-out from South Birmingham’s resident psychedelicists

Pram: strange and otherworldly

While Pram could hardly be described as representative of the UK psychedelic scene, it would be hard to imagine South Birmingham’s favourites being birthed by any other sub-culture. Sixties film and television soundtracks collide with dreamlike soundscapes, 30s jazz, trippy pop and more than a dash of the almost mythic BBC Stereophonic Workshop to create music that somehow feels particularly rooted in the British mindset. Especially once it finds itself under the influence of a couple of stiff gins or something perhaps a little stronger. Strange, yet half-recognised grooves power this eerie music that can be quite disorientating, which also makes it almost the perfect soundtrack to these unsure times.

Promotional shots of Pram (main picture) often have the band decked out in outlandish costumes with weird and unsettling masks. While Scandi psych-poppers Goat might also pull the same shtick, they don’t look anything like as unsettling as the Brummie foursome. However, the band that took to the stage at the Hare & Hounds looked disappointingly normal, like academics on an evening out, all dressed in black. That said, the Theremin set up in pride of place, at the front of the stage, made it clear that Pram’s first homecoming gig in a while was going to be anything but a normal performance. This was reinforced by the strange images of bunny rabbits, hot air balloons and other unrelated objects flitting continuously across the three screens above the stage.

Launching into “Shimmer and Disappear” from last year’s Across the Meridian album, Harry Dawes laid down a trombone-powered groove over a 60s sci-fi organ sound. Sally Owen’s airy vocals brought the air of something decidedly disconcerting to the trippy “Thistledown” before technical issues brought things to an unexpected halt and, as Pram aren’t really ones for on-stage banter, created a bit of a pregnant pause.

Once things were back on track, the pastoral “Electra” gave way to an extended Theremin solo before sunny pop grooves, flute, trombone and trippy off-kilter beats took over. Regularly swapping instruments between songs, Pram brought an ambient, if somewhat foreboding edge to “Wave of Transition”. The haunting “Midnight Room” threw some psychedelically reimagined New Orleans jazz into the mix before adding the Bossanova swing of “Sailing Stones”.

While Pram managed to fill the venue with sonic explorers from throughout South Birmingham, they’d all seemingly turned up without their dancing shoes and spent the entire performance with feet firmly planted in the ground – barely even nodding their heads to the groove. Not that the audience wasn’t appreciative between songs and at the merchandise stall afterwards. During the songs though, they stood almost transfixed, under the spell of the strange sounds emanating from the stage.

Finishing up with a brace of tunes from The Moving Frontier, Pram took the audience on a final musical travelogue with “The Silk Road” and its melodic flavours from across the Asian continent. Finally rounding things off with the hypnotic “The Empty Quarter” and bathed in pink light, Sally Owen declared that the band had no more songs to sing and with that, released the audience from their trance and into the relative normality of a chilly late summer’s evening in the West Midlands.

Sixties film and television soundtracks collide with dreamlike soundscapes, 30s jazz, trippy pop and more than a dash of the almost mythic BBC Stereophonic Workshop

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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